Socialist Worker

Anger as Heathrow airport ruling boosts climate-wrecking project

by Sarah Bates
Issue No. 2736

Protesting against Heathrow airport expansion

Protesting against Heathrow airport expansion (Pic: Extinction Rebellion)


A new court ruling means a third runway at Heathrow airport could be back on the cards, overturning a previous decision to block the project. 

The supreme court decided on Wednesday that expansion to the west London airport was legal, which means bosses could begin to seek planning permission. 

It contradicts a judgement in February which declared that the project was unlawful because it flew in the face of Britain’s commitment to halting global warming.

But the latest court of appeal ruling said that government didn’t have to take into account its own commitments under the Paris Accords when signing off on new projects. 

“Approving Heathrow’s third runway is a betrayal of our children’s future and incompatible with the UK’s climate commitments,” said Magdalena Heuwieser from the anti-aviation group Stay Grounded. 

“We condemn the reckless and irresponsible verdict. But this fight is far from over.”

Crisis

Local residents and environmental groups have been campaigning for three decades against the runway, which will make lives worse for local people and contribute to rapidly escalating climate crisis.

It now means that airport bosses are likely to fight for a development consent order. But they are not guaranteed to be granted one. 

Boris Johnson famously promised to lie down “in front of the bulldozers” to halt construction, yet he has presided over a government determined to push it through. 

This is a government of hypocrites.

Just last month the Tories toughened up their rhetoric on slashing pollution and said they wanted to cut carbon emissions by 68 percent by 2030. 

But a third runway means that 700 more planes are likely to fill the skies around west London every single day. 

Pollution

Residents would also face years of construction disruption, causing air and noise pollution and increased traffic. 

Climate change group Plan B brought the original action against Heathrow Airport Ltd (Hal). This is the firm currently trying to impose brutal new contracts on its workforce.

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Tim Crosland, a lawyer for Plan B said the most recent decision could set a precedent for other cases against polluting infrastructure. 

He released the verdict the day before it was officially announced, as “an act of civil disobedience”. 

“I had no choice but to protest the deep immorality of the court’s ruling,” he said. 

A number of legal actions have been brought against the project by environmental NGOs, including Friends of the Earth. 

The supreme court judgement also overturned a similar Friends of the Earth case. 

Will Rundle, head of legal at the charity, said the group was “disappointed but pleased [the judgement] confirms our view that climate impacts will still need to be fully determined at planning. 

“We are in this for people everywhere facing climate breakdown right now, and for the next generation who are being left to inherit a world changed for the worse,” said Rundle. 

Pushing forward with climate-wrecking projects such as the third runway, or HS2 high-speed railway, contributes to more climate disasters. 

Such projects should be taken off the agenda for good. 


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