The UK Supreme Court has reversed a previous Appeal Court ruling on Heathrow expansion plans, putting a third runway back on the horizon for the country’s main airport.
The Appeal Court had ruled that the government’s airports strategy didn’t meet up-to-date UK climate targets, but the Supreme Court has now ruled that the strategy was legitimately based on previous climate targets at the time it was agreed.
Heathrow Airport could now begin the process of seeking a Development Consent Order to allow construction of their proposed new North-West runway. It would still need to go through the planning process, which would include a public enquiry. Reports suggest a full application from Heathrow may be over a year away, as the Airport will need to reassemble its planning team, and as it continues to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
A Heathrow Spokesperson said: “Demand for aviation will recover from Covid, and the additional capacity at an expanded Heathrow will allow Britain as a sovereign nation to compete for trade and win against our rivals in France and Germany. Heathrow has already committed to net zero and this ruling recognises the robust planning process that will require us to prove expansion is compliant with the UK’s climate change obligations, including the Paris Climate Agreement, before construction can begin.
“The Government has made decarbonising aviation a central part of its green growth agenda, through wider use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel as well as new technology. As passenger numbers recover, our immediate focus will be to continue to ensure their safety and to maintain our service levels while we consult with investors, government, airline customers and regulators on our next steps.”