Legal Costs Victory For Third Runway Challenge

High Court orders Government payout to claimants in Heathrow Judicial Review

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The High Court ordered the Government to pay their own costs plus 60 per cent of the costs incurred by the claimants in last month's Heathrow Judicial Review.

In making the order, Lord Justice Carnwath said the claimants, a coalition of local councils, including Hounslow and environmental groups had achieved a "substantial success" in the case and that an undertaking given by the Transport Secretary Lord Adonis was a "major concession."

The undertaking means that the government cannot ask the Planning Inspectorate to disregard matters that may have been raised in previous public consultations on expansion at Heathrow when any future application is submitted.

This would involve reviewing the climate change implications of Heathrow expansion, the economic case for a third runway, and the issue of how additional passengers would get to a bigger airport.

Mark Gilks, chief executive of the London Borough of Hounslow, said,
“This is a victory for the ordinary people who have always said No to the expansion of Heathrow.

“This could finally signal the end of the threat of a third runway, which has been hanging over our heads for years.

“We have long said that the economic arguments didn’t add up, and that the noise and pollution arising from the associated transport infrastructure - which hasn’t even been properly planned - would have a direct negative impact on Hounslow residents and businesses, and it’s great that this has been acknowledged.”

The undertaking ensures that the Government's 2003 Air Transport White Paper, which underpins airport expansion plans across the UK, cannot simply be cut and pasted into the Aviation National Policy Statement due in 2011.

This formalises one of the Judge's key findings: that the White Paper is inconsistent with the Climate Change Act 2008 and that it was "untenable in law and common sense" for the Government to treat the issue of Heathrow expansion as settled by a policy statement from seven years ago.

As a result, ministers will now have to go back to the drawing board and take into account the implications of the Climate Change Act 2008 when drawing up new aviation policy.

April 21, 2010