29-Mar-2010 10:58 AM

High Court rules UK Goverment must review plans for London Heathrow expansion

UK’s High Court ordered the UK Government to review plans to expand London Heathrow Airport, including construction of a third runway at the airport (Associated Press/express.co.uk, 26-Mar-2010/AFP/The Independent/The Times, 27-Mar-2010). The court ruled the development plans are “untenable”, as they are based on outdated environmental requirements. The move came after a coalition of local councils, residents and green groups argued the plans went against the government’s climate change targets. However, the court stated the ruling does not mean it the project cannot go ahead in the future.

  • UK Government: Prime Minster, Gordon Brown, responded stating the government will not change its plans, as Heathrow is “vital” to the UK economy.
  • Department for Transport: Vowed to “robustly defend” the project, stating London Heathrow is an important hub and is already at capacity. Transport Minister, Andrew Adonis, also dismissed the ruling, stating the plans had been developed prior to changes in the UK’s climate change laws;
  • BAA: Stated arguments still sit in favour of the expansion of the airport; [more]
  • Council reaction: Hayes and Harlington Labour MP, John McDonnell, called for the government to cancel the plans and instead look into high speed rail links;
  • Other reactions: Bristol Airport campaigners stated the judgement should also be applied to Britsol Airport GBP150 million expansion plans, calling for the project to be cancelled (UK-Airport-News.info, 28-Mar-2010).
  • Birmingham Airport responded (26-Mar-2010) to the ruling stating it is part of the solution to the 'Heathrow Problem'. According to the airport, there is spare capacity at Birmingham - enough capacity to take another 9 million passengers immediately. The airport thus also called for the development of a high speed rail system in place of the third runway at Heathrow. [more]

UK Government: “It is entirely compatible with our carbon reduction targets, as demonstrated by the recent report by the independent committee on climate change…We have always made clear that normal planning process would still need to be followed before a runway could be built. We are taking seriously both the concerns that people have and the need for public consultation. But we took a tough decision, the right decision necessary for the future of Britain and the economy, and a new runway will help secure Britain's economic future,” Gordon Brown, Prime Minister. Source: The Independent, 27-Mar-2010.

Department for Transport:
“It is vital not only to the national economy but also enables millions of citizens to keep in touch with their friends and family and to take a well-deserved holiday. A new runway at Heathrow will help secure jobs and underpin economic growth as we come out of recession,” Andrew Adonis, Transport Minister. Source: Associated Press, 26-Mar-2010.

BAA: "Permission to build a third runway at Heathrow is an important decision for the country, which demands extensive consultation. This judgement was about the process of consultation, not the arguments for or against a third runway, which we believe remain strongly in favour of new capacity at the UK's only hub airport. As we produce more detailed proposals, those will be open to full public scrutiny," Company Statement. Source: BAA, 26-Mar-2010.

Hayes and Harlington Council: “In essence, this judgment means that the game is up for a third runway at Heathrow and I am calling upon the Government to accept the inevitable and lift this threat to my community. What we need now is a sensible approach to developing a sustainable transport policy based upon high-speed rail. This judgment is a victory. It means that whichever party is in government, they will not now be able to force through Heathrow expansion,” John McDonnell, Hayes and Harlington Labour MP. Source: express.co.uk, 26-Mar-2010.

Birmingham Airport: “We believe in an integrated transport system, and High-Speed Rail must play a part in distributing the demand for international gateways. In the meantime, we are just over an hour from London. Birmingham Airport is a vital yet underused piece of National strategic infrastructure. It is already the Midlands' premier international gateway. We have plenty of capacity and, linked to high-speed rail, we are uniquely positioned to attract passengers from the overheated South East. We will not just be another Airport for London as we have our own traffic but by providing a solution to the 'Heathrow Problem' we will create jobs and help to rebuild the local economy. Positioned at the heart of the country we are perfectly placed for those visitors from abroad who want to experience all that the region, and further afield, has to offer. Birmingham’s reputation continues to rise and is truly a destination which provides the perfect port of entry foreign visitors as well as UK Nationals travelling overseas,” Paul Kehoe, CEO. Source: Birmingham Airport, 26-Mar-2010.

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