New runway at Heathrow Airport faces legal challenge
The UK Government’s approval of a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport is being challenged by environmental campaigners.
Friends of the Earth announced its decision to file legal papers against the decision this week, which will be decided at the High Court.
The global charity takes issue with the Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) released alongside the approval decision in June.
Campaigners argue that the NPS fails to explain how building the runway is compatible with the UK’s legally binding climate change targets, or its commitments under the Paris climate agreement. There is little mention of the impact from other greenhouse gases, such as nitrogen oxide, which also contribute to dangerous climate change.
Final Government approval on a new runway at Heathrow was a decade in the making and is still subject to meeting air quality plans. The airport is one of the busiest in the world and a major contributor to noise and air pollution in the area.
Friends of the Earth's director of campaigns Liz Hutchins said: “The government’s airports strategy completely ignores its obligations to tackle climate change - this is short-sighted, incredibly reckless and we believe it is unlawful.
“Allowing the aviation industry to pump more pollution into the atmosphere will make it far harder to prevent catastrophic climate change – and leaves future generations to suffer the consequences.
“It’s time to end our reliance on the fossil fuels that are already roasting our planet and threatening peoples’ lives, homes and livelihoods.”
Friends of the Earth is being represented by public law firm Leigh Day, known for tackling high-profile environmental cases.
Solicitor Rowan Smith added: “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.”
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