Councils ‘ready’ for legal challenge on runway plan

Release Date: 25 June 2018

Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion say that if MPs tonight (Monday) vote in favour of a third runway, they will seek a judicial review. 

Leaders of the boroughs say that even if Parliament votes in favour the airport will never be able to build a third runway.

Cllr Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council, said:

“Heathrow already makes life intolerable for people of all sides of the airport. The Government should be reducing noise for the communities affected but instead it is making it worse. The local authorities have said repeatedly that the noise impacts from the runway are unacceptable. More than 2 million people will be affected by noise from a third runway but they don’t know it yet because the Government has deliberately delayed telling us where the flight paths will be.

“It was only last week that we were finally able to see previously unpublished figures showing that the Government knows that 38 flights could be allowed to land before 5am to make this runway viable. The people whose lives will be affected and whose health will suffer are being kept in the dark.

“If Ministers press ahead now and formally designate the National Planning Statement supporting the third runway we will move quickly to bring this case before the courts. It cannot survive independent, lawful and rational scrutiny.”

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“The councils have pointed out repeatedly that Heathrow contributes to illegal and lethal air pollution.  Even with measures to cope with pollution, a new airport will cause further deterioration and, contrary to the Government’s optimistic and fanciful figures, risk illegal levels of pollution in the future. The Government has still offered no evidence showing how air quality obligations can be achieved.

“We will fight this proposal through the courts and we will win because the alternative is to condemn thousands of people to premature deaths from dangerous levels of air pollution.

“We will use all the tools at our disposal to end this third runway nightmare once and for all.”

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said:

''A third runway at Heathrow is simply untenable. This is a part of London where air pollution levels are already unlawful. The air quality will become significantly worse by adding a runway and all the traffic that goes with it. It seems that this is obvious to everyone apart from the Government.

“MPs should have used this opportunity to kill off this highly flawed project. Instead, the Government imposed a three-line whip on its MPs, and relied on other political parties for support, in order to secure the necessary number of votes in the House of Commons. In doing this, the Government has effectively prevented any democratic debate taking place in relation to a huge infrastructure project with such far-reaching consequences for public health and the environment.  It is very unfortunate that MPs chose to ignore all the evidence which clearly points to the fact that a third runway is a very expensive white elephant.

“Heathrow expansion will have a devastating impact on local communities in Hillingdon. I have made this point a number of times before and it appears likely that the Secretary of State will designate the NPS during the coming weeks in order to try and frustrate, as far as he possibly can, a legal challenge being brought against his decision in the High Court in a timely manner.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, this will not in any way deter Hillingdon and its partners from bringing a challenge and indeed, it will only encourage us to refer the matter to the High Court as soon as possible. The necessary groundwork for a robust legal challenge will be prepared immediately and we will, now that Parliament has failed us, do all that we can to bring this sorry saga to an end once and for all''.

Cllr Stephen Cowan, the Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council said:

“In 2014 we set up an independent residents’ commission to advise the council on our policy on Heathrow and they came out clearly against expansion. On their advice, we’ve made our position very clear: a third runway at Heathrow would mean more noise for residents already suffering relentless disturbance, more pressure on our roads and transport system, and an unacceptable increase in air pollution.

“We have always fought, and will continue to fight, to protect the quality of the lives of our residents.

“We absolutely refuse to sit back and let such a potentially catastrophic decision be made without a fight. 

“If we need to take legal action, we will.”

The local authority group opposed to Heathrow expansion includes the London Boroughs of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Hammersmith & Fulham alongside Greenpeace and the Mayor of London.

If following the MPs’ vote the Government moves to formally designate the National Planning Statement supporting the third runway project the local councils will have six weeks to challenge the decision by way of judicial review.

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Lyle Skipsey on 020 8487 5182. 

Reference: P319/18

Updated: 28 June 2018