Councillor Lister writes to Putney

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Cllr Lister's previous diary

There can be no doubt that after last Friday’s stunning success in the High Court the Government’s bid to impose a third Heathrow runway, and all the noise and congestion that goes with it, has come badly unstuck.

To those of us who fought the campaign it seems as if all the Transport Department’s chickens have finally come home to roost. Right from the start they fitted the facts to get the outcome they wanted. Remember the fantasy planes they invented to prove the noise test could be met? The reasons ministers could be so confident about the runway meeting its environmental tests was because they loaded the dice so heavily in favour. But what Lord Justice Carnwath found last week was that the Government had closed down debate on the biggest test of all: the climate change impact of all those extra flights.

It’s not just what building a new airport the size of Gatwick in the most densely populated corner of the country does to the environment – it’s what it does to the economic case. By the time you add in higher carbon costs, which the judge noted would have a significant impact on the economic picture, and the expense of putting in place the transport links to get people to the expanded airport, the overall benefit is all but wiped out. Ministers of course are claiming nothing has changed but the ruling makes it plain that position is untenable in law. These expansion proposals date back to 2003 – the world is a very different place today. 

This ruling marks the beginning of end for the third runway. I am proud of the role played by councils like Wandsworth in standing up to the Transport Department and forming such a broad coalition to fight the proposals. By working together we were able to expose the shoddy way in which both the consultation and the environmental assessment had been manipulated.  

Few people among the 700 or so who attended the St Mary’s Church debate on Heathrow back in January 2008 can have imagined that our campaign would have such a successful outcome. But it just shows what can be achieved if you work at it.

Edward Lister
Leader of the Council

March 31, 2010

Edward Lister is the Leader of Wandsworth Council and a member for Putney's Thamesfield ward.