Five judicial reviews begin on plans for London Heathrow’s third runway

While U.K. transport Minister Chris Grayling has approved the latest proposals for the creation of a much-needed third runway at London’s Heathrow airport, the plans are now subject to five legal reviews which began this week, and which are likely to last for a fortnight before judges retire to consider their decision.

Of principal concern is the effect on air quality in the area surrounding the airport as passenger numbers are likely to increase some 60% to 132 million per annum. Not only will this see an increase of 700 extra flights per day, and an increase of 42,000 cars using the location each day, with no sign of any additional rail infrastructure.

One of the legal actions is being taken by a coalition of Greenpeace, The Mayor of London and local councils that will be directly affected by the airport’s expansion. Friends of the Earth is looking to challenge the expansion on the grounds that plans have failed to consider the need to mitigate climate change under the Paris Agreement.

The go-ahead for a third runway at Heathrow was made through the NPS, the policy framework for expansion at the airport devised by Grayling. The legal firm Leigh Day, which is representing Friends of the Earth, alleges the policy is unlawful because it amounts to a breach of the UK’s climate change commitments and its duties towards sustainable development.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will boost the economy, increase our international connections and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“As with any major infrastructure project, the government has been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position. We recognize the local impact of any expansion, which is why a world class package of mitigations would need to be delivered.”

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