Heathrow third runway: All five legal challenges to get full hearing at Royal Courts of Justice

Shadow chancellor pledges ‘direct action’ if expansion plans are given go-ahead

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 04 October 2018 17:55 BST
John McDonnell vows to fight the third runway even if it is given the go-ahead

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All five legal challenges to plans for a third runway at Heathrow will go to a full hearing, the High Court in London has ruled.

Four organisations and one individual applied for their objections to the expansion scheme to be given a full hearing.

They are challenging the National Policy Statement from the Department for Transport (DfT), which gives a green light to Heathrow’s third runway. MPs approved the plans in June.

Local authorities, the Mayor of London, environmental groups and a resident of Twickenham, Neil Spurrier, applied for a hearing on environmental grounds.

They are joined by proponents of Heathrow Hub, who propose an extended northern runway, and who claim that the decision process that led to the National Policy Statement was flawed.

Today’s hearing before Justice Holgate was a procedural step prior to a full judicial review in March 2019.

The five cases will be heard by two judges over 10 days.

Such is the expected level of interest that the largest courtroom at the Royal Courts of Justice will be used, with a standby courtroom to be available for overspill, with a TV link to the main proceedings.

Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said: “It is not insignificant that the judge has permitted all five claimants to proceed to judicial review.

“If the government had not ignored available evidence in their blinkered enthusiasm to expand this already highly disruptive airport, parliament would not have supported the proposal, and these actions would not have been necessary.”

Before the hearing, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, whose Hayes & Harlington constituency includes Heathrow, pledged direct action if the runway eventually gets the go ahead.

“Heathrow and the third runway campaign will be the iconic battleground, not just in London, not just in this country, but across Europe and the globe against climate change,” he said.

“I warn the government. We’re not going to lose. We’re going to win. We’re going to protect our communities and above all else we’re going to protect our planet.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will provide a boost to the economy, increase our international links and create tens of thousands of new jobs.

“As with any major infrastructure project, we have been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position.

“Today’s hearing does not impact on the work Heathrow is undertaking on its application for planning consent or the timetable to deliver this much-needed runway.”

A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Today’s hearing is part of the normal court process when large infrastructure projects are legally challenged.

“We remain confident in our plans – which are backed by an overwhelming cross-party majority in Parliament – and will continue to develop them in tandem with this review.

“We remain on-track for the first plane to depart from a third runway at Heathrow in 2026.”

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