Heathrow clears JR hurdle

A Judicial Review over the National Policy Statement on aviation which brought government approval of a third runway at Heathrow has found in favour of the government, moving expansion of Heathrow a step closer.

The government welcomed the judgement from the High Court which dismissed all 26 grounds. Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: “The positive outcome confirms my belief that government undertook a robust process in coming to its decision to support a new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport by 2030. This was one of the largest public law challenges of all time and I am pleased that the hard work of the independent Airports Commission and the department has been shown in good light. In designating the Airports National Policy Statement, this government demonstrated its willingness to take difficult decisions, resolving an issue with which successive administrations had grappled for decades.”

Government believes that connectivity to the UK’s only aviation hub airport is vital to productivity. Expansion would better connect the UK to the rest of world with an extra 16 million long-haul seats available by 2040, and increase the number of domestic routes to 14.

On the negative effects of expansion, Grayling said: “This government recognises that airport expansion cannot be at any cost. Expansion at Heathrow would only take place in compliance with air quality legal limits. For those communities impacted by the scheme, a world class package of mitigations would be provided and, despite the third runway, a future Heathrow would be quieter than it was in 2013 as new, quieter, planes come online and robust noise mitigations are rolled out. To get people to and from the expanded airport, Heathrow must ensure more people travel by public transport – supported by the expected development of western and southern rail links.”

Heathrow Airport has said it will undertake a consultation on its scheme masterplan in June. This will provide an opportunity for interested parties to give their views on the emerging scheme design. Heathrow would then apply for development consent which would be considered by the Planning Inspectorate, before a recommendation is made to government.

The Judicial Review had been brought by five councils, residents, environmental charities and the London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Lord Justice Hickinbottom, sitting with Mr Justice Holgate, said in the ruling: “We understand that these claims involve underlying issues upon which the parties – and indeed many members of the public – hold strong and sincere views.

They also noted that the “hearing … was only concerned with the legality, and not the merits, of the Airports National Policy Statement.”

Commenting on today’s High Court ruling on the expansion judicial review claims, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “We are delighted with today’s ruling which is a further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in Parliament, but in the courts also. We are getting on with delivering the once-in-a-generation project that will connect Britain to global growth, providing thousands of new jobs and an economic boost for this country and its future generations.”

Construction on the new runway could start as early as 2021, with operations beginning in 2026.

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