Wandsworth Council leader celebrates ‘terrific win’ in Heathrow expansion case

By Mhari Aurora
March 17 2020, 14.00

Environmentalists are celebrating after winning an appeal to stop the controversial third runway at Heathrow airport.

Judges ruled that the government’s backing of the proposed expansion was unlawful as it did not adhere to the UK’s climate policy.

Wandsworth Council, alongside other councils and environmental organisations challenged the Airports National Policy Statement over the expansion plans.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “It’s a terrific win for the local authorities who have fought a long battle on behalf of their communities.

“If democratically-elected councils won’t stand up for their residents’ interests and protect their quality of life – who will?”

Reactions to local campaigners are pouring in hailing this a success for local activism.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan tweeted: “I am delighted that the Court of Appeal has recognised that the Government cannot ignore its climate change responsibilities.

“I will continue to stand up for Londoners’ concerns by doing everything I can to stop the Heathrow expansion.”

Pat Gross, chair of environmental group Friends of Wandsworth Park, said: “This goes beyond the legality and politics. It’s the world we are trying to save here, and humanity. Climate change impacts every part of our lives.”

Friends of the Earth along with other environmental organisations were seen celebrating outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the decision was announced.

Head of legal at Friends of the Earth, Will Rundle, said: “This ruling is an absolutely ground-breaking result for climate justice and has exciting wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions.”

Cllr Govindia called the expansion ‘dead and buried’.

However, there is still a possibility of the runway being built, this will be dependent on whether the new plans keep to the UK environmental regulations aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero by 2050.

In a statement, Heathrow said: “We are ready to work with the Government to fix the issue that the court has raised.

“We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future.”

In a summary released by the court, the outcome was blamed on “a failure to take into account the Government’s commitment to the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said on the day of the ruling: “Today’s decision is extremely disappointing. UK aviation has committed to net zero carbon by 2050 and this factors in the emissions created by Heathrow expansion.

“It is not a question of being pro-aviation or pro- environment.”

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