Air, Freight News

Setback for Heathrow Runway Three – updated

[ February 27, 2020   //   ]

Heathrow airport’s plans to build a third runway received a setback on 27 February after the Court of Appeal ruled that the government had failed to follow climate policy in a case was brought by environmental groups, councils and the Mayor of London.
The airport however took a bullish view of the decision saying: “The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on “noise” and “air quality” – apart from one which is eminently fixable. We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful. In the meantime, we are ready to work with the Government to fix the issue that the court has raised.”
The British International Freight Association said it had not changed its opinion on the need for expansion and has urged the government to work with the airport’s owners to create a plan that met with the country’s climate obligations.
Director general Robert Keen said: “The Lord Justices have made it clear that their judgment didn’t mean that there could never be a third runway at Heathrow, but that the government now has the opportunity to reconsider, in accordance with the clear statutory requirements that parliament has imposed.
“The owners of Heathrow Airport have made it clear that whilst it will appeal to the Supreme Court on the one issue that was not dismissed – the Airports National Policy Statement, which approved the project in its current form – it is ready to work with the Government to fix the issue that the court has raised.
“The government has announced it will not appeal today’s judgement. On behalf of BIFA member companies, which are keen for the greater number of flights and accompanying airfreight capacity that would result from a new runway, BIFA urges the government to revise the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) and work with Heathrow to solve the legal issues.”
But he added that when, in 2018, the government gave approval for the third runway, he had “a sense of foreboding” of further legal challenges and questioned “whether spades will ever hit the ground”. That sense of foreboding remains, he warned.
Head of multimodal policy at the Freight Transport Association, Alex Veitch, commented: “This decision is a blow to the economy. However, planning consent for a third runway at Heathrow Airport has always been contingent upon meeting climate obligations, and with the rapid improvements in aviation fuel and engine technology we are confident that Heathrow will be able to demonstrate that this challenge can be met. Now more than ever, the UK needs world-class global gateways. Heathrow Airport accounts for 40% of the UK’s non-EU trade by value but has been operating at peak capacity for freight for many years; expansion is long overdue.”
The GMB Union, which represents airport workers, said that it was disappointed by the court ruling.
“Heathrow expansion is a complicated issue, but we have consistently backed it because the benefits more than outweigh any risks. Like everyone else, GMB members are very worried about climate change, but we would have held Heathrow Airport’s feet to the fire on their target for zero carbon by the mid-2030s.”
It called on the Government to come up with a proper aviation strategy for the UK.