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Heathrow Runway to Face Five Legal Challenges

Heathrow Runway to Face Five Legal Challenges

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The High Court has ruled to allow all five legal challenges to the government’s approval of a third runway at Heathrow Airport to go ahead.

The proposals to have a third, two-mile runway operating at the London airport by 2026 are to be financed by private Heathrow shareholders, with charges recouped from airlines. Shareholders hope for construction to begin in 2021.

Five separate appeals against the government’s support for the expansion plans will each receive a full hearing next year, with applicants including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and five local authorities, alongside environmental charity Greenpeace. Other challengers include an individual local resident, charities Plan B and Friends of the Earth, and Heathrow rival Heathrow Hub.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is named as the respondent in the public law challenges to the Parliament-backed plans.

The Department of Transport said it remained “confident” that the expansion would go ahead, adding that “legal challenges” were to be expected “with any major infrastructure project” and underlining the government’s intention to “robustly defend” its decision.

Mayor voices concerns with £14bn project

Plans to expand Heathrow with the addition of a £14bn third runway have been in the pipeline for several years, with the Airports Commission recommending the measure to the government in July 2015.

The government has maintained that the expansion is “a critical programme,” which will benefit London by providing “a boost to the economy, increas[ing] our international links and creat[ing] tens of thousands of new jobs.”

Critics however have said that the plans present an environmental threat for locals, causing increased air pollution as well as significant noise pollution for those who live nearby.

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan stated that London’s Mayor was “greatly concerned about the impact of a third runway on air quality, noise pollution and also…on public transport” in the capital.

The Department of Transport published a National Policy Statement setting out proposals for the expansion earlier this year, with Parliament approving the plans in June.

The applicants in the five legal disputes against the plans are challenging the validity of Parliament’s decision, claiming that the procedure followed to create and approve the current National Policy Statement was flawed, which thus undermines its legal status.


Government prepares to defend “much-needed” runway

Following the initial hearing this month, a full judicial review will commence in March 2019, with all five cases against the expansion to be heard over ten days in front of two judges.

The court in its judicial review will not be able to bar Parliament from approving the runway altogether, but it could order the National Policy Statement to be reviewed. If this happens, it could present a significant setback to the plans by requiring renewed approval to be secured in Parliament.

Several MPs have taken issue with the plans, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledging to take direct action if the runway eventually clears all legal barriers. Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr McDonnell, who is a local MP, termed the dispute an “iconic battleground, not just in London, not just in [the UK], but across Europe and the globe” in the fight “against climate change.

The Department of Transport however said that the runway was “much needed” and noted that the plans had been “backed by an overwhelming cross-party majority in Parliament.” The governmental department affirmed that the challenges will not delay Heathrow’s “application for planning permission or the timetable to deliver [the expansion],” adding that plans “remain on track for the first plane to depart from a third runway at Heathrow in 2026.”

Jon Mowbray, Partner in IBB Real Estate Dispute Resolution team, who is acting for parties impacted by the proposed third runway, commented that:

“..legal challenges to such a major infrastructure project were inevitable but it is in everybody’s interest for these to be concluded as soon as possible. Ongoing uncertainty about whether or not the project will go ahead is harmful to both local residential and commercial occupiers.”

Contact our Heathrow compensation and compulsory purchase solicitors today

Contact IBB’s property dispute resolution solicitors for expert advice on obtaining compensation associated with construction of the third runway at Heathrow and the consequences of the increased air traffic. Call us today on 01895 207988 or email propertydisputes@ibblaw.co.uk.


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