Heathrow and its supporters say the UK`s exit from the European Union makes the expansion plan essential to ensuring the country can increase trade with the rest of the world. The planned third runway would be the first runway to be built in the London area in 70 years. Ten years ago, a new runway plan was put aside before a commission set up by the government carried out a three-year study, which recommended a new extension in 2015 and led to the most recent project. In a victory for climate change activists, an appeals court judge said the failure to heed the government`s climate change commitments was “legally fatal” to plans to build a third runway at Europe`s busiest airport. Heathrow is the UK`s largest port by value and accounts for 40% of exports in 2019, but both of its runways are at full capacity and the airport will be eclipsed by Paris as Europe`s busiest in two years, after previous attempts to expand it failed. LONDON (Reuters) – The proposed expansion of London`s Heathrow airport was ruled illegal by a court on thursday on environmental grounds, a ruling that could sink the $18 billion project, marked by decades of dispute and indecision. As part of the £14 billion ($18.2 billion) expansion plan, Heathrow`s new runway would open in 2028. If scrapped, airlines and business groups will look for answers where new capacity can be added, given that Britain`s second-largest airport, Gatwick, south of London, is also full during the summer months. In 2014, Johnson advocated a £112 billion plan to build a new airport in the mouth of the Thames, but the airport commission dismissed it as too expensive, risky and complicated. The government has said it will not appeal the verdict, raising questions about the future of a project that has been the subject of heated discussion in Britain for nearly half a century. The judge said the government`s policy in its current form did not take into account the government`s climate change commitments when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was a resounding opponent of enlargement, which was approved under the previous government. During last year`s election campaign, he said he needed to find a way to keep an old promise to lie down in front of bulldozers at Heathrow to stop the plans.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on Britain to support the Heathrow project. “This is not the end of the road. It`s very affordable,” CEO John Holland-Kaye told Sky News on Thursday. In order for the new track to now continue, the Transport Ministry would have to amend its policy statement, but it remained silent on the matter on Thursday. “From our point of view, this is legally fatal for the AnPS (Airports National Policy Statement) in its current form,” judge Keith Lindblom said. The government must now review the policy if it wants it to continue, he added. “The government must show leadership, support expansion and ensure that the UK has the sustainable airport capacity it needs to maintain its position as a global trading nation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, CEO and Director General of IATA. “This ruling has a tremendous impact on keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions,” said Will Rundle, director of legal sciences at Friends of the Earth. Heathrow believes a recent plan by the UK aviation industry to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 will help to annul the decision.
Environmental activists such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, as well as local authorities opposed to enlargement, welcomed the verdict and said recognition of climate change commitments could have consequences for other projects. Heathrow Airport, owned by Spain`s Ferrovial, Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp, has announced that it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, while the government is not. . . .