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Thu Feb 27, 2020, 06:30 AM

Heathrow third runway ruled illegal over climate change

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the court of appeal because ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s climate change commitments.

The ruling is a major blow to the project at a time when public concern about the climate emergency is rising fast and the government has set a target in law of net zero emissions by 2050. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, could use the ruling to abandon the project, or the government could seek an appeal in the supreme court or draw up a new policy document to approve the runway.

Johnson has opposed the runway, saying in 2015 that he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction”. Heathrow is already one the busiest airports in the world, with 80 million passengers a year. The £14bn third runway could be built by 2028 and would bring 700 more planes per day and a big rise in carbon emissions.

The court’s ruling is the first in the world to be based on the Paris agreement and may have an impact both in the UK and around the globe by inspiring challenges against other high carbon projects.


For non-British DUers: Johnson's constituency is close to Heathrow, so there's a lot of local opposition to it for him, on noise grounds, as well as climate. As London mayor, he proposed a new London airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary, but its cost was huge. The political decision to go ahead with the 3rd runway was taken before he became PM.

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