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Court of Appeal hears challenge from councils, London Mayor to Heathrow expansion approval

The Court of Appeal has this week begun hearing an appeal from five councils, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace over the Government’s decision to approve Heathrow expansion.

The councils bringing the appeal are Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth, Hammersmith & Fulham and Windsor and Maidenhead.

They argue that the Government failed to properly consider the full impact of expansion on noise, health and the environment and that the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) should therefore be quashed.

The Court of Appeal hearing is expected to last until 23 October.

Lawyers for the group “will spell out how the government's deliberate failure to identify the whole area that could be affected by noise from a hugely expanded Heathrow fatally undermined the decision to go ahead”, the councils said in a statement.

“Ministers consulted on a single set of speculative flight paths. The councils say that if it was not possible to identify actual flight paths - as the Government and the airport claimed - they should have identified all the areas where flight paths might be located. Papers disclosed in the case show the Government was worried that if it did reveal the true extent of the risk then support for Heathrow expansion would be lost.”

The appellants will also claim that:

  • The Government failed to apply its own policy on noise limits, and this had the effect of dramatically reducing the numbers assessed to be disturbed by noise.
  • The Strategic Environmental Assessment was defective in failing to consider how the ANPS backing expansion at Heathrow related to all relevant local plans - including the Hillingdon Local Plan and the Mayor's London Carbon Plan.
  • The Secretary of State was wrong to reject Gatwick as an alternative to Heathrow on the grounds that expansion at this location might threaten a species of orchid.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "A north-west runway at Heathrow would have a devastating and long-term impact on the health and wellbeing of millions of Londoners. It will bring in an additional 260,000 flights a year - the same as bolting on another airport the size of Gatwick - yet the government continues to pretend that it will have no adverse effects in terms of noise, air quality or climate change. And, in Hillingdon, where we would see some 1,000 homes demolished and 3,750 more blighted, the increased effects of worsening air pollution will be especially harmful for children and young people. 

"In short, a third runway would be nothing short of an environmental catastrophe and a health time bomb and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect residents and stop it from going ahead.”