UK High Court dismisses objections to Heathrow expansion

Heathrow Airport can proceed with an application to build a third runway after the UK High Court ruled the government’s blueprint for expansion to be legally sound.

In a judgement today, the court rejected five claims for judicial review challenging the secretary of state’s decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement.

Four of the claims – relating to climate change, noise, surface access, air quality and habitats – were brought by five London boroughs, the Mayor of London, several nongovernmental organisations including Greenpeace, and one individual claimant. The fifth, pertaining to “legitimate expectation and anti-competition”, was filed by proponents of a rival scheme.

The High Court says its remit was to investigate whether the government’s application had been “flawed by any legal error”. The applicants can appeal the decision, and will have another opportunity to mount a challenge when the airport submits its planning application for expansion.

The airport has welcomed the judgement as a “further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in parliament, but in the courts also”.

Heathrow intends to hold a public consultation on its preferred masterplan in June, and intends to apply for a development consent order in 2020. That will begin an expected 18-month planning process which Heathrow expects to conclude in 2021.

The High Court opened its proceedings in March. Parliament had approved the government’s plan for Heathrow expansion in June 2018.

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