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Heathrow expansion unlawful given failure to assess climate impacts, court of appeal rules

3rd March, 2020

The Government’s case for Heathrow expansion, which formed the basis of the parliamentary vote in support of the project in 2018, failed to take proper account of its climate change impacts under the Paris Agreement, the Court of Appeal ruled today. 

AEF Deputy Director Cait Hewitt said:

This is a huge win for the climate, and leaves Heathrow’s third runway plans in tatters. In presenting plans for a third runway to MPs, the Government failed, the court has found, to assess whether this was compatible with the Paris Agreement. 
The project would increase emissions at the UK’s biggest airport, and the UK has since legislated to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, so it’s very hard to see how the Government could now ever demonstrate that a third runway could be reconciled with the necessary scale of climate action.
This ruling should mark the end of plans for any new runways in the UK. The Government should stand up to the airports lobby, drop its support for airport expansion, and invest instead in low-carbon transport and supporting British tourism.

Today’s ruling comes just weeks after North Somerset Council and Uttlesford Council rejected plans for expansion of Bristol and Stansted airports respectively on the basis of their environmental impacts, including climate change. These councils are two of around 260 local authorities to have declared a climate emergency last year.