Heathrow campaigners lose challenge against third runway


British Airways Airbus A380 landing at Heathrow

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Campaigners have lost a High Court challenge against the government’s decision to approve plans for a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport.

Five councils, residents, environmental charities and the Mayor of London brought the action after MPs backed the plans in June.

The campaigners said the runway would effectively create a “new airport”, having a “severe” impact on Londoners.

But lawyers representing the government said the case was “unarguable”.

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “This verdict will not reduce the impact on local communities from increased noise and air pollution, nor will it resolve Heathrow Ltd’s financial difficulties or the economic weakness in their expansion plans.

“But our main concern is allowing Heathrow, the UK’s biggest carbon emitter, to expand in the middle of a climate emergency.”

The case was brought against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling by local authorities and residents in London affected by the expansion and charities including Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth and Plan B.

They argued that the government’s National Policy Statement (NPS), setting out its support for the project, failed to account fully for the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.

Outlining the case on behalf of campaigners, Nigel Pleming QC had said the plans could see the number of passengers using the airport rise to an estimated 132 million – an increase of 60%.

But lawyers representing Mr Grayling said the claimants’ case was “premature”, as they would have the opportunity to make representations at a later stage in the planning process.

The ruling means the government will not have to devise a new NPS and put it to another vote in Parliament.

It won its first vote by a comfortable majority of 296 after Labour MPs were granted a free vote.

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