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Another day, another Heathrow legal challenge

heathrow cropped

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth has begun High Court legal action against the government over its decision to give the third runway at Heathrow Airport the green light.

The charity claims the decision breaches the UK’s climate change policy and its sustainable development duties. It is challenging the legal basis of the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), published in June, which provides the framework for the airport’s expansion.

It is the fourth legal fight against the expansion plans: environmental charity Plan B is also starting legal proceedings against expansion. Rival expansion firm Heathrow Hub started a judicial review last week and London mayor Sadiq Khan, alongside five London boroughs and Greenpeace, is bringing another challenge.

Law firm Leigh Day, acting for Friends of the Earth, filed papers with the High Court on Monday, which called for the NPS to be quashed. 

Leigh Day public law solicitor Rowan Smith said: “In no sensible terms can this be described as sustainable development, when the additional costs of carbon-offsetting and the global warming potential of non-CO2 emissions from aviation do not feature in the government’s plans.

“The government has a legal duty to take into account climate change policy and the Paris Agreement it has committed to with the global community, the Airports National Policy Statement does not adequately consider those factors and we therefore will argue that it is unlawful.”

Heathrow has remained bullish in the face of the challenges, saying it has factored the legal fights into its timeframe and the runway won’t be delayed.

The High Court is expected to make a decision on whether there will be a full hearing in the autumn.

New Civil Engineer has contacted the Department for Transport for a response.

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