Councils To Seek Judicial Review of Heathrow Decision

Pro-expansion group say they should respect the will of parliament and local people

CGI image of how extended airport might look

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Five local councils have started the process of seeking a judicial review into the Government’s decision to expand Heathrow. This Thursday (19 July) they formally notified the Secretary of State for Transport that they intends to challenge policy support given in the Airports National Policy Statement (“NPS”) for a third runway.

The local authority group comprises of the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Windsor and Maidenhead Council, and Hammersmith & Fulham. They have also been joined by the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

The councils are challenging the Government on the grounds of air quality, climate change, strategic environmental assessment including an alleged failure to properly to deal with the noise consequences and surface access impacts.
On air quality they say, amongst other things, that the Government has misunderstood and misapplied the law on air quality.

On surface access the councils say, amongst other things, that the NPS fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and pollution.

Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “The councils have shown extraordinary patience. We have given the Government numerous opportunities to address our concerns and answer our questions. All the evidence shows that a new Heathrow runway will be bad for the environment in our boroughs and bad for the health of our residents.”

Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said, "London's determination to kill off this environmentally ruinous and highly disruptive scheme is growing, so it's no surprise that the Mayor has joined the cross-party group of councils in their legal action.

“With the confidence of their lawyers high, the courts could be ruling out the third runway, once and for all, long before Heathrow have even had a chance to launch their campaign for a fourth".

Back Heathrow, the pro-expansion campaign group has said that the move is a continuation of the waste of taxpayers’ money by these councils.

Back Heathrow's Executive Director Parmjit Dhanda said, "Less than a month ago Parliament gave the green light to Heathrow expansion with a cross-party majority of nearly 300 MPs. Over 100,000 local people support this project, the CBI and the TUC back it too. The Independent Airport's Commission began this process with a clear report stating that the new runway can create 180,000 new jobs, reduce the number of households affected by noise and meet all environmental obligations.

"Yet these councils have failed to engage in this process or accept technological advances in aviation. Instead they have chosen to spend nearly £1 million of taxpayers’ money funding over the past decade on campaign groups and expensive lawyers. Its time they respected the views of local people, businesses, unions and the democratic will of Parliament."

The Government must now respond to the councils’ formal letter before action. If the Transport Secretary does not agree to a quashing of the NPS, then the local authorities will bring judicial review proceedings.

July 19 , 2018

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