‘We have no choice’: South London councils demand Chris Grayling reverses Heathrow decision

An ultimatum has been sent to the government demanding they reverse their Heathrow decision by several London councils including Wandsworth, Richmond and Hillingdon.

In a letter sent to transport secretary Chris Grayling yesterday, ministers were told they have 14 days to reverse their decision, or be taken to the High Court in a judicial review.

It’s the latest high-profile legal proceeding against the government, following their defeats on London air pollution, and Brexit last month.

Wandsworth council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Heathrow expansion is incompatible with environmental legislation and the process leading up to this decision has been deeply flawed.

“Ministers have not listened to our warnings so we have no choice but to take legal action.”

MPs from other London boroughs have also got behind the cause.

“These cases could be the future of politics if the government keeps trying to steamroller through policy,” said Carshalton and Wallington MP Tom Brake.

“I’m fully behind the action. I think the government’s plans need to go back to the board. It’s very clear that they are not going to pass air quality regulations.”

But a spokesperson for the Department for Transport insisted the airport decision was correctly reached.

“We believe the Heathrow Northwest Runway can be delivered in line with our obligations on air quality, with a suitable package of policy and mitigation measures,” the spokesperson said.

“We are unable to comment on the detail of any legal proceedings but we are confident that our process for decision-making is robust and will strongly defend any challenge.”

And after Sadiq Khan threw his weight behind the challenge on Wednesday, Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell believed the controversial runway plans could be halted.

Ms Russell said: “We absolutely support the councils’ legal challenge. The government has got itself in a complete muddle in its duty to meet air quality regulations and reduce exposure to pollution as fast as possible.

“I think the councils have a very strong case.”

Featured image courtesy of givingnotrocketmail-com via Flickr, with thanks

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