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Local Councils Threaten Legal Action as Cabinet Gives Go-Ahead to Heathrow Expansion

Local Councils Threaten Legal Action as Cabinet Gives Go-Ahead to Heathrow Expansion

Heathrow Compensation Claims

Cabinet ministers have approved Heathrow Airport’s plans to expand with a third runway, prompting a coalition of local authorities to threaten legal action.

Windsor and Maidenhead borough leader Simon Dudley announced that his borough, alongside three others (presumed to be Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth) could join with Greenpeace to seek a legal review of the government’s decision, if Parliament approves the £14bn expansion plans.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling discussed details of the approved Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) in Parliament, assuring that £2.6bn would be allotted to compensate residents and resolve noise issues.

However, Cllr Dudley maintains that the government may need to do more to “satisfactorily address” the impact of noise and air pollution that a new runway will have on residents.

Citing the main issues of “respite, night flights and noise,” Dudley confirmed that the local government coalition would “look at the proposals to see whether our significant concerns” have been addressed, adding: “if they have not . . . there will be a legal challenge.”

Grayling has accepted 24 of 25 recommendations from Parliament’s Transport Select Committee in a bid to limit the negative impacts of the plans, after the committee warned that failure to do so would likely result in a strong legal case against the expansion.

The Transport Secretary assures that a ban on night flights would be an “absolute requirement” in conditions for the runway’s construction.

Air quality regulations would also be upheld, with Grayling stating: “This runway cannot be built if it does not meet air quality rules.”

Campaigners pressurise Labour to oppose third runway

MPs are expected to vote on the proposal by July 11th after the cabinet signed off on expansion following decades of deliberation, in what ministers called a “historic moment.”

In a speech to Parliament, the Transport Secretary underlined that the new runway– which could be completed by 2026 – would be privately funded and improve regional UK transport links.

Opponents however cite the environmental implications of the plans – maintaining that the expanded airport would emit “as much carbon as a small country” and contribute to health problems in the area. 9,000 people in London and 40,000 nationwide are thought to die from air pollution every year, with public health concerns likely to form a key part of any legal petition to the courts to overrule the decision.

Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils have already spent a combined £300,000 seeking legal advice in their continued resistance to the runway expansion.

Meanwhile, Labour has faced political pressure from campaigners to oppose the plans in Parliament’s vote. Eight protestors were arrested outside the Labour Party’s headquarters in early June, whilst members of the Vote no Heathrow group are planning a hunger strike.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell remains “implacably opposed” to a third runway and said he was “even more convinced that this would be a costly, environmental and social disaster” after Grayling’s speech. Others in the party however, including affiliates of transport union Unite, support the construction and its projected creation of 60,000 new job opportunities for workers.

Heathrow owners emphasise economic benefits over environmental risks

The economic benefits of the new runway provide a strong counter to residential wellbeing and health concerns, which ministers say have been limited. Proponents estimate that the new runway could contribute £70bn to the economy by the 2050s.

The owners of Heathrow – including Spanish construction and infrastructure group Ferrovial and Qatar’s national wealth fund – argue that expansion would ease overcrowding and accommodate 44.5m more passengers annually.

Rival airport Gatwick has long argued that expansion plans for Heathrow would violate EU laws on air quality under the 2010 Industrial Emissions Directive. However, in light of the updated terms of the government’s approval regarding night flights and landing charges, this argument may no longer hold water.

If Parliament approves the plans, authorities will have six weeks under administrative law protocol to apply for a judicial review to determine the lawfulness of the government’s decision. A review, if granted permission to proceed by the courts, would be the only remaining legal avenue for opponents to successfully quash Heathrow’s expansion.

Commercial real estate lawyer and partner at IBB Solicitors, Jeff Elphee, commented:

“With so many substantial competing interests progress was never going to be smooth ( and rightly so) and a difficult balance lies ahead.”

Heathrow Compulsory Purchase and Compensation Scheme

If you are a local resident or business affected by the Heathrow expansion you may be entitled to compensation.

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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