We can’t let it go: Friends of the Earth vows to continue to fight Heathrow expansion

Environmentalists in south west London have reacted with dismay at the decision of the high court to reject a legal challenge to Heathrow expansion.

However they have vowed to fight on and support a legal appeal against the decision following the verdict earlier this month.

In a statement, Friends of the Earth said it was launching an appeal because the government had failed to take into account climate change and sustainable development when considering expansion.

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said: “Expanding Heathrow is wrong on every level and we can’t let it go. I could not sleep at night if Friends of the Earth did not challenge this decision. We are going to appeal because we believe the court got it wrong.

“We are going to continue this fight because it’s more about more than a runway; it is actually about a future fit for our children.”

Friends of the Earth argues that the decision to go ahead with Heathrow expansion is unlawful as it fails to meet the requirements of the Paris climate change agreement by making significant commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

It believes that expansion outlined in the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) is also unlawful as it fails to take into account domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction made under the Climate Change Act (2008).

Friends of the Earth also argues that it doesn’t take into account the impact of aviation as highlighted by the Committee on Climate Change or the non-C02 impact such as nitrogen oxides.

Maggie Thorburn, a Friends of the Earth activist from the Hounslow and Brentford branch, said: “It’s not kept up with the international picture of limiting carbon emissions. It is a little bit at odds with some of the other decisions that have been made in court about environmental issues such as air pollution. They may be correct in their interpretation of the law as it stands but the law is way out of date in light of the climate change recommendations made recently.”

Green Party activists across south west London strongly support the Friends of the Earth appeal arguing that the plans don’t meet emission reduction targets and will negatively affect residents.

Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Putney Diana McCann, said: “The judges seem to be dancing on the head of a pin it seems to be some quite obscure points of Law which Chris Grayling has used to get the plans through to this stage.

“The Paris climate agreement isn’t enshrined in UK law and the judges feel that the case for Heathrow expansion as presented by the government fit the current emissions reduction targets.”

Peter Underwood, Green Party 2020 London Assembly candidate for Croydon and Sutton, claimed businesses and the government were ignoring environmental concerns in relation to Heathrow expansion.

He said: “They only care about the money,  that’s all they look at. All these things are in terms of money and business people are told it’s a good idea so they say yes it’s a good idea. They put a higher priority on money than they do on air quality, sound quality and the climate generally.”


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