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Heathrow’s third runway is off, for now anyway, following the Court of Appeal’s decision that the government’s greenliight for the project was unlawful.

However, while anti-third runway groups celebrate and the government admits that it won’t appeal against the judgement, it is far from the end of the matter with the judges stating that a third runway could still get the go ahead some time in the future, if it meets the UK’s commitments on climate change.

Heathrow has issued the following statement: “The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on “noise” and “air quality” – apart from one which is eminently fixable.
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“We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful. In the meantime, we are ready to work with the government to fix the issue that the court has raised.

“Heathrow has taken a lead in getting the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to get to Net Zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Accord. Expanding Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of Global Britain.

“We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future. Let’s get Heathrow done.”

Commenting on this morning’s ruling, partner and head of planning and environment at international law firm Taylor Wessing, Al Watson, said: “In my view, this was perhaps to be expected. Delivery of a major project is all about timing, and there has been too many conflicting factors in play during this policy planning process.
“Amidst the timing of the previous government’s decision to go for carbon neutral in the economy by 2050, combined with the new Conservative government with a PM and his long history of opposing Heathrow.

“The emerging science on climate crisis, the timing for promoting and obtaining consent. Delivering a third runway at Heathrow may well have gone, and forever.”

But he noted that “we’ve been here before”, citing announcements going back to 2003, between then and 2010, then again from 2016 through until 2020.

“R3 has had a policy of support. But government policy does not build anything; project teams and infrastructure kit does,” added Watson.
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“So what now? The other airports in the London airport system need to understand how their expansion plans need to take up demand that cannot be met entirely at Heathrow.

“The government now needs to take its own advice on what to do next. Does it go to the Supreme Court or to the PM to shrug his shoulders and tacitly accept the defeat he appears to have wanted?”

Heathrow Hub, which has always supported the extention of the airport’s northern runway as opposed to a new third runway, is more definite in its response to today’s news, claiming that “it is effectively dead”.

Jock Lowe of Heathrow Hub said: “This is our ‘we told you so’ moment. There was always a huge risk that the unnecessarily complicated and expensive third runway would fail on environmental grounds and that Boris Johnson would stop it, and so it has proved.

“There is only one realistic solution to Heathrow expansion – our cheaper, greener, simpler, quicker and quieter proposal to make the most of the existing assets by extending the northern runway.”

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