Council to challenge latest efforts by airport’s owners to revive plans for third runway at Heathrow

Published: Thursday, June 11, 2020

Wandsworth Council is poised to support fresh legal efforts to cement its recent victory over plans to expand Heathrow Airport.

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With the news that the airport’s owners and the construction company involved in the rebuild are to try and rescue the plans with an appeal to the Supreme Court, Wandsworth has indicated it wishes to join other councils and environmental groups in guaranteeing the judges hear both sides of the argument.

The council is seeking permission to intervene as “an interested party” due to the importance it attaches to the outcome - and the impact a reversal would have on tens of thousands of Wandsworth residents. Being represented at the hearing would mean the council and its allies can ensure that the strong arguments against Heathrow expansion are fully aired.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “In February those of us opposed to any further expansion of Heathrow expansion won an historic victory against plans for a third runway.

“Our case was against the Government’s decision to allow another runway to be built. And our victory was based on the undeniable fact that such an expansion would have a hugely detrimental impact on the environment.

“If the airport were allowed to expand, there would be an unacceptable impact on pollution levels and air quality. It would mean the Government could not possibly meet its legally binding carbon reduction targets.

“It should be noted that the Government has to some degree seen sense and is not seeking to overturn the ruling – but regrettably the airport’s owners and its construction partners are seeking to do just that.

“It would be wrong for us, having won such a decisive victory earlier this year, to now sit back and do nothing, and simply let events take their course, hope for the best, and refrain from resisting these new efforts to get the expansion approved.”

In its verdict in February, the Court of Appeal found that the Government had not taken into account the requirements of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change when drawing up its national policy statement (ANPS) that supported Heathrow expansion.

The councils that brought the case – Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor & Maidenhead, together with the Mayor of London and Greenpeace– had challenged the ANPS alongside environmental groups Plan B and Friends of the Earth.

In the immediate wake of that court ruling Cllr Govindia had described it as “a massive relief for Londoners and people in the Home Counties affected by Heathrow.

“It shows that no Government can expect to drive through major expansion plans without properly considering the full environmental and climate change impacts.

“It’s also 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?”

And he had added: “A new approach to airports policy is needed if we are to make best use of existing runway capacity and ensure that any additional growth is assessed in the context of climate change impacts.

“This must look at the effects on other parts of the UK which would lose connectivity if new airport expansion were to be massively concentrated in the South East and the Government’s own plans for levelling up between the South East and the rest of the country.”

For more information about how Heathrow affects the borough and the council's efforts to alleviate those impacts visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/aviation.