The Supreme Court overturned the February ruling that Heathrow’s third runway was illegal. Projects can now seek planning permits, but it is unclear whether the runway will be finalized.
The Supreme Court ruling marks the latest distortions in years of legal and political debate over the climate impact and economic benefits of airport expansion. February’s decision was considered historic by environmental activists as it was the world’s first important ruling based on the Paris Climate Agreement, and related cases have since been raised against plans to build more road and gas power plants. England.
The Court of Appeals found that government approval of the runway was illegal because the ministers did not consider Britain’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. However, at the argument of Lawyer Heathrows, the Supreme Court decided that this was not necessary and overturned the verdict.
This ruling means that the airport can now seek a development agreement order, a kind of planning permit for nationally important infrastructure. This can be difficult as the UK government, which has accepted the decision in February, considers a more stringent commitment to reduce carbon emissions recently announced.
Computer-generated images released by Heathrow show what the airport would look like in 2050 with a third runway. Photo: Heathrow Airport/AFP/Getty Images
Since the runway was approved in 2018, the UK has committed to a net zero emissions by 2050, and on December 4th it has committed to reduce its carbon footprint by 68% by 2030. The climate crisis is exacerbated as CO2 levels continue to rise in the atmosphere and internationally. The UK’s action is drawing attention as the UK will host an important UN climate summit in Glasgow next November.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Heathrow was one of the busiest airports in the world with 80 million passengers per year. The 14 billion third runway will carry 700 more planes per day and significantly increase carbon emissions. However, the Covid-19 travel restrictions destroyed the aviation, and Heathrow said runways that previously set 2028 as a completion date could be delayed by five years. Other observers said that a third runway may not be needed now.
I still don’t think a third runway will happen, said Plan B’s attorney Tim Crosland, who sued Heathrow. Something really harmful [about the supreme court ruling] It is a precedent for other cases. He said the appeals court ruling that Britain’s commitment to the Paris Agreement had to be considered was a really powerful tool in the legal debate over high-carbon infrastructure.
Crosland said it was considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, an option not affected by Brexit. The verdict was under embargo until Wednesday morning, but Crosland tweeted on Tuesday for an act of civil disobedience that threatened to blaspheme the court. I had no choice but to protest the deep immorality of the court ruling, he said.
The Supreme Court also overturned the Earth Friends case. As Will Rundle, Legal Director of Friends of the Earth, said: It’s disappointing, but I’m happy. [the judgment] When planning, it confirms our view that climate impacts should still be fully determined. Heathrow airport expansion is questionable and more difficult than ever. [UKs] Climate policy becoming increasingly stringent.
We are here now for everyone facing climate collapse and for the next generation to inherit a worse world.
Approving Heathrow 3rd runway is a betrayal of our children’s future and incompatible with the UK’s climate promise, said Magdalena Heuwieser of the Stay Grounded campaign. We condemn reckless and irresponsible verdicts. However, this fight is not over.
Protesters are spreading banners outside London’s Supreme Court to support Heathrow expansion. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images
Parmjit Dhanda of campaign group Back Heathrow said: This is an important moment for the community, and it desperately demands jobs and apprenticeships in very difficult times for our economy. It’s also a big moment for the UK moving to the uncertain Brexit, but now I’m confident that the country’s only hub airport can facilitate international trade with additional capacity. Together with the supporters of the CBI, TUC, this is an opportunity to progress while at the same time meeting the country’s carbon reduction targets by 2050.
Most flights departing from the UK are used for enjoyment, and only 20% of the UK population fly more than two-thirds of international flights. Critics also say the economic benefits are fantastic and will drive investment to the southeast, for example, given the around 10 billion taxpayer money needed to change road and rail connections to the airport.
Heathrow airport officials approached for comment.
The government approved a third runway in 2018, taking the majority in Congress. However, ministers said in February they had accepted an appeals court ruling that it was illegal. Prime Minister Boris Johnson opposed the runway in 2015, lying in front of a bulldozer to stop construction.
Last week, the Climate Change Commission, an official government adviser, said there should be no airport expansion if it cannot be reduced to compensate for emissions from flights.
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