Councils Share Joy As New Government Cancels 3rd Runway

Wandsworth's leader welcomes todays confirmation

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The decision which forms a key part of the coalition agreement between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties is the final nail in the coffin for the controversial scheme.

It is the second victory in just two months for anti-expansion campaigners.

In March Lord Justice Carnwath said the then government was wrong to have proceeded as if nothing had changed since the 2003 airports white paper setting out plans for airport expansion across the UK.

Cllr Lister, speaking on behalf of the 2M Group, said, “Today’s news is the final proof of the extraordinary success of our campaign. First we won in the courts and now we’ve got the new Government confirming that it’s all over.

“We could not have known what the outcome of the election would be when we brought this challenge. The judgment meant that whatever the result the case for the third runway would have been set back years. 

“This won’t be the end of our campaigning, we will want to ensure that the current relief offered to residents by runway alternation is maintained and we will be pressing for reductions in night flights and more stringent noise and air quality controls.

“The new Government now has the chance to draw a line under an unsatisfactory period of public administration when too often it seemed that the aviation lobby’s interests were being placed ahead of the concerns of local people about the environment and their quality of life.”

Wandsworth was one of six councils which joined forces with environmental groups to challenge former transport secretary Geoff Hoon’s decision in January 2009 to support the new runway.

The councils argued that new climate change laws meant the whole economic case for expansion had to be revisited. In a landmark ruling the judge said the councils had made a powerful demonstration on of the developments in climate change policy since 2003.

As such, he said, ‘it made no sense to treat the economic arguments as settled in 2003.’

Following the judgment the outgoing transport secretary Lord Adonis was required to provide a legal undertaking that the principle of the third runway was still open to debate and could not be considered a done deal.

The judge said the undertaking was a ‘major concession’ and ordered the transport department to pay 60 per cent of the claimants’ legal costs. The ruling meant that expansion could not go ahead in the future without a fundamental re- examination of its environmental and economic impacts. The announcement confirms the withdrawal of policy support for a third runway.

The High Court challenge was brought by Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Richmond upon Thames, Wandsworth and Windsor & Maidenhead councils with support from Kensington and Chelsea, Transport for London and the Mayor of London.

The councils were joined by the local residents group (Notrag), aircraft noise campaigners HACAN, World Wildlife Fund UK, Campaign to Protect Rural England and Greenpeace. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was an expert witness.

The councils are all members of the 2M Group - an alliance of local authorities concerned about the environmental impact of Heathrow expansion on their communities.

The group, which took its name from the 2 million residents of the original 12 authorities, now represents a combined population of 5 million people.

May 13, 2010