Has the plan for a third runway at Heathrow hit the buffers? Looks like it. Today’s Court of Appeal ruling could cause the plan to run out of steam. It certainly represents a fork in the road… and not just any fork but a fork in the road with red lights at it. And some big potholes. What happened? Well, the judges ruled that the government’s decision to support the creation of a third runway was unlawful because it had not taken account of the UK’s commitments under the Paris climate accord. It doesn’t mean a 100% definite ‘no’ but it does mean that to proceed with the plan the government would need to demonstrate how Heathrow expansion is consistent with the UK’s commitments on climate change, carbon emissions and the like. The government has said it will not appeal the decision thus sparing Boris Johnson the embarrassment of not lying down in front of the bulldozers. However, Heathrow Airport has said it will appeal but it will be an uphill task without strong government support. (Insert something about global connectivity in post-Brexit Britain here, if you can be bothered).
The case against the plan was brought by assorted climate change activists, local councils (including our very own El Brute) and the Mayor of London. The ruling doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen but it does represent a major setback for fans of expansion. It also creates a precedent for challenges to other major infrastructure projects, including increasing aviation capacity at other UK airports as an alternative to Heathrow. Discuss.