Heathrow court ruling can’t be ignored

Published: Monday 30th July 12

Wandsworth Council and its campaign partners have told the aviation lobby that the basis of a 2010 High Court ruling against a third Heathrow runway is just as strong today as it was then.

In a letter printed in today's Times newspaper, the 2M Group of local councils said that nothing has been done to address the noise, air quality and surface access concerns associated with Heathrow expansion.  

The full letter is included below:

Sir, BAA chief exec Colin Matthews persists in his attempts to reopen the debate on Heathrow expansion but still has no answers to the environmental constraints that grounded the third runway.  

What he and the various cheerleaders for a third (and fourth?) Heathrow runway overlook is that the noise, air quality and surface access concerns that were the basis of the successful local authority-led High Court action in 2010 are just as severe today as they were two years ago.  

The Transport Secretary continues to rule out both a third runway and mixed mode for very good reasons. The current aviation policy framework notes that Heathrow's noise impact easily exceeds the combined impact of all other hub airports in Western Europe . It also recognises the value that residents under the flight path place on the present alternation of runway operations which give them respite from overhead noise for at least eight hours a day.

Whether short or long term, mixed mode is just not a credible option. You simply can't set out to make air quality worse in a location that is already recording NO2 levels above EU limits and expect to get away with it. This was why the last government backed off.

The real showstopper for full mixed mode however is the safety risk. With dual arrival and departure streams on each runway a late aborted landing would potentially end up climbing into the path of a previous departure. There is no quick fix for this apart from a major redesign of the south east England airspace - which is years away and now needs to be coordinated with Eurocontrol - the European air safety body.

Whatever the case for additional capacity in the South East, Heathrow cannot be the answer.

Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia, Leader of Richmond Council Lord True, Leader of Hounslow Council Jagdish Sharma and Leader of Hillingdon Council Ray Piddifoot on behalf of the 2M group of local authorities

Wandsworth Council is a founder member of the 2M group. This is an all-party alliance of more than 20 local authorities concerned at the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities.

The group led a court challenge against the previous Government plans for a third runway at Heathrow. The Lord Justice Carwnath ruled in their favour - calling the scheme 'untenable in law and common sense' (March 26, 2012).

A summary of the case against Heathrow expansion

Read Lord Justice Carnwath's judgment in full


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