The Greater London Authority (GLA) has included in the Draft New London Plan text which makes clear the Mayor’s current opposition to Heathrow expansion and conditions under which it would be acceptable. Heathrow Airport wants the text deleted on the grounds it is “inconsistent” with central government policy.
West London Friends of the Earth and others appeared at the hearing on 10/5/19 to defend the GLA’s right to be able to state its policy and views.
The Mayor is democratically elected and it is absolutely right that that the London Plan should explain the Mayor’s views and policies. Heathrow’s attempt to censor these is another blatant attack on local democracy.
Previously Heathrow (via its ‘front’ organisation, Back Heathrow) has attacked local councils such as Hillingdon for “wasting” money opposing a third runway.
Councils are democratically elected and have the right, indeed duty, to represent residents, citizens, taxpayers and voters. Unlike Heathrow Airport, whose only responsibility is to make money for its owners and directors. If councils are concerned – as they must be – about noise, air pollution and congestion and about the health and quality of life of their citizens, they have every justification for spending a relatively tiny amount of money on opposing a third runway and trying to protect their citizens.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) report (275 pages) published today today (2/5/19) makes clear that aviation must be included in the zero emissions target. And that international credits (offsets) must not be used to wriggle out of this obligation.
It is clear from the governnment’s own figures that a third runway at Heathrow is inconsistent with even the current target of 80% cuts by 2050, let alone 100% cuts. (See concise report.) We should not be surprised therefore that judges Holgate and Hickinbottom put out their judgement on Heathrow expansion just before the CCC report. Their judgement said (by implication of course, not explicitly) that a third runway could go ahead irrespective of such climate considerations.
Judges Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate have rejected outright the Judicial Review brought by local councils, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace against the government decision to build a third runway at Heathrow. [Full judgment]
Nic Ferriday, from West London Friends, said “The upshot of the judgment is that the Paris Agreement, signed by the UK government, can be ignored when it comes to expanding Heathrow. Furthermore, the National Policy Statement (NPS), which materially misled MPs when it said that a third runway was consistent with UK climate targets [article and paper], should stand.”
Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth, said: “We are in an ecological and climate emergency and parliament have supported an outdated decision to chase climate-wrecking development. How can we take any government remotely seriously when they claim to care about climate chaos while supporting this runway?”
Nic Ferriday added “Judges Hickinbottom and Holgate have meekly supported the government by saying that the government can ignore the latest evidence and even its own undertakings on climate change. The government can, with legal impunity, mislead MPs (and presumably anyone else). We therefore need to hold the judges as well as the government to account.”
See also a slightly longer opinion piece.