The High Court in London will today start a judicial review into the government’s green light for a third runway at Heathrow.
A coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and the mayor of London Sadiq Khan are fighting a legal battle against approval of the third runway.
The case is being brought against transport secretary Chris Grayling by local authorities and residents in London affected by the expansion and charities including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Plan B.
They claim the government’s National Policy Statement setting out its support for the project fails to properly deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion.
The claimants will argue the NPS is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the government would have to start the process again and put it to another vote in Parliament.
Heathrow Hub, the rival proposal for expanding the airport via an extension to the northern runway, is one of the claimants.
Heathrow Hub claims that the process run by the Department for Transport, which commenced when it set up the Airports Commission in 2013 and culminated in the National Policy Statement being placed before Parliament, was “flawed and unlawful”.
A spokesman said the third runway was “the most expensive, complex, disruptive expansion plan which, among other things, we believe will unnecessarily cause a substantial rise in fees for passengers and airlines”.
Demonstrators are expected to gather outside the court on the first day of a two-week hearing before Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate.
Laura MacKenzie, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The UK government claims to be a climate leader yet supports the pending emissions disaster that is the third runway at Heathrow.
“An expanded Heathrow Airport would put seven hundred extra planes a day into our skies, pumping millions of tonnes of carbon into our atmosphere.
“With the impacts of climate chaos already being suffered by millions around the world, we simply cannot allow this to go ahead.”
Grayling has said the new runway at the London hub would set a “clear path to our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world”.
Construction could begin in 2021, with the third runway operational by 2026.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Expansion at Heathrow is a critical programme which will provide a boost to the economy, increase our international links and create tens of thousands of new jobs.
“As with any major infrastructure project, we have been anticipating legal challenges and will robustly defend our position.
“Today’s hearing does not impact on the work Heathrow is undertaking on its application for planning consent or the timetable to deliver this much-needed runway.”
A Heathrow spokeswoman said: “We are participating in the legal challenges as an interested party given our role as the promoter of this critically important, national project.
“Our work in delivering Britain’s new runway will continue in tandem with this process following overwhelming support in Parliament.
“We remain focused on the work needed for our development consent order submission in 2020 and we are getting on with the delivery of this project which will benefit the whole of the UK.”
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