Friends of the Earth begin anti-Heathrow action

Friends of the Earth has begun legal action at the High Court claiming the decision by the government to allow the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport is unlawful as it fails to address the UK’s climate change obligations.

The legal challenge brought by Friends of the Earth challenges the legal basis of the government’s decision to designate the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS), the policy framework for expansion at Heathrow Airport devised by the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, which gives the go-ahead to a third runway at Heathrow.

Papers were filed with the High Court on 6 August 2018 asking for the Airports NPS published in June to be quashed. Friends of the Earth argues that the Airports NPS does not explain how it takes account of domestic targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008, that it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, that it does not factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a third runway, and that it does not consider the likely impact on future generations of a third runway.

A decision on whether there will be a full hearing about these issues is expected to be made this Autumn.

This follows lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities issueing judicial review proceedings in the High Court. The proceedings challenging the expansion of Heathrow airport have been brought by the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.

The grounds of challenge are on air quality, environmental assessment, climate change, surface access, the habitats directive and what the consortium says was a flawed consultation process.

Also, lawyers acting for Heathrow Hub, the proposal for expanding Heathrow Airport via an extension to the Northern Runway (ENR), have filed papers at the High Court in London, seeking permission to Judicially Review the designation of the National Policy Statement. They also feel that the process was flawed.