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Heathrow Third Runway Inquiry is ‘Illegal’

Heathrow Third Runway Inquiry is ‘Illegal’

Four councils near Heathrow airport claim a new consultation on plans for a third runway is illegal because of bias already demonstrated by ministers towards the expansion.

The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead and the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames and Wandsworth contest that pro-Heathrow statements made by Conservative ministers including Transport Secretary Chris Grayling could mean that the consultation is unlawful.

The four Conservative-led councils are all members of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, which has long argued that expansion should be stopped because of noise and air pollution. Heathrow airport management say a new runway would increase its capacity from 85.5m passengers to 130m.

In their most recent submission to the Department of Transport, the four councils claim that “a consultation, to be lawful, must be approached with an open mind.” The councils then proceed to cite a number of instances where ministers at the department have indicated that their “mind is prematurely but firmly made up.”

Expansion would have been rejected if it was truly open-minded, say councils

The four councils contend that, had the approach been genuinely open-minded, then expansion at Heathrow would already have been rejected not only on the grounds of concerns about air pollution and excessive noise but also because of new evidence indicating that expansion wouldn’t deliver any economic advantage over Gatwick, among other matters.

The airport announced a public consultation on the proposed development of the third runway at Europe’s biggest airport in December 2017, seeking the views of local residents on how the airspace around it is managed, saying it aimed to mitigate the environmental impact of proposed expansion.

The consultation will launch on January 17th and run for 10 weeks.

“Over the past year, we’ve been working hard to evolve our expansion plans and have come up with several new options to deliver it more responsibly and affordably . . . By working together throughout the consultation, the public can help shape our plans and, jointly, we can ensure that expansion delivers for our passengers, businesses across Britain and importantly for our local communities,” said Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow’s executive director for expansion.

Government wants runway to be completed by 2025

Theresa May gave her support to a £16bn expansion of the airport in October 2016, after many years of government vacillation. Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said that the Government aims to give the go-ahead to the new runway in the first half of 2018.

Paul McGuinness, chairman of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:

“There’s a growing sense that the case for Heathrow’s third runway is falling apart. The evidence, including the government’s own, simply no longer stacks up to support it. The only thing they seem to have on their side is the [Department for Transport], whose prejudgment in advance of its own consultation is now raising serious legal questions in the year ahead.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have been clear that our preferred option for increasing airport capacity is a third runway at Heathrow. We have consulted with an open mind and once we have reviewed all of the submissions we will set out how we intend to proceed.”

Heathrow hopes to start building in 2021. It plans to complete the runway by 2025.

Heathrow increases environmental charges for aircrafts

Heathrow Airport has said that it is increasing its environmental charges for aircraft by 7%, as it moves to encourage airlines to deploy cleaner and newer aircrafts to lower emissions and noise pollution.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“Heathrow is determined to reduce the airport’s environmental impacts. Increasing our environmental charges to incentivise airlines to bring their cleanest, quietest aircraft to Heathrow is the best way to cut emissions and shrink the noise footprint around the airport. It is a tangible step that will make a real difference to local communities.”

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