Heathrow’s 3rd Runway – Judicial Review

Judges Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Holgate have rejected outright the Judicial Review brought by local councils, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. They approved the government’s decision to build a third runway at Heathrow. [Full judgment]

A Disappointing Summary

Reading out the judgment, Lord Justice Hickinbottom barely looked up at the people in the crowded courtroom. He made no effort whatsoever to explain in plain language the nature or reason for the judgment he delivered.

He did concede “We understand that these claims involve underlying issues upon which the parties – and, indeed, many members of the public – hold strong and sincere views.”

Rather patronising to those who actually care about climate change and think we should do something about it.

Profound Implications

The judgment was at pains to point out that it was only concerned with the legality of the government’s National Policy Statement. It was not concerned with its content or merit. But if the judgment is sound (and this is not clear because it is being appealed) the implications are profound.

One upshot of the judgment is that the Paris Agreement, signed by the UK government, can be ignored when it comes to expanding Heathrow.

The government has not actually implemented the Paris agreement, because it has not amended its Climate Act or passed any other binding legislation. So ultimately the Paris Agreement can be disregarded.

So Government has a green light to act in bad faith!

Another upshot is giving government a green light to mislead MPs and the public. The National Policy Statement (NPS) was materially misleading. For example it claimed it “.. concludes both that expansion via a Northwest Runway at Heathrow Airport (as its preferred scheme) can be delivered within the UK’s carbon obligations ..

This is misleading because the evidence, produced by the government itself, shows that a third runway is not consistent with climate obligations.

False Claims

The NPS also makes claims about economic benefits of a third runway, but conveniently ignores its own evidence which shows negligible or possibly even negative economic benefit.

What the judges are saying is, in effect, that it is okay for the Government to lie and mislead. And this from a court – of all places!

The judges could reasonably argue that they were required only to consider the legality of the government’s policy, not the merits. This may be so, but judges have complete freedom, which they often use, to make general comments on a case and its issues. They are entitled to say that, irrespective of what they were forced to conclude for reasons of law, the law is mistaken or irrational or immoral.

The fact that the judges made no such comment speaks volumes.

After all, why rock the boat by suggesting we should actually take climate change seriously instead of just paying lip service? Why not hide behind legal niceties instead of saying what needs to said? ‘An easy life’ would be one of the more charitable answers.


Judges Hickinbottom and Holgate have meekly supported the government by saying that they can ignore the latest evidence and even its own undertakings on climate change. So we must now hold them as well as the government to account.

But this attitude will backfire. If people see judges just supporting the ‘establishment’ , it can only lead to even less trust in government, big business, the judiciary and ultimately democracy itself.

Article by Nic Ferriday

Ealing Council and the 3rd Runway

While other councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond and Hammersmith & Fulham are strongly and publicly opposed to a third runway, Ealing’s Labour council has always been equivocal. Council leader Julian Bell has said, when pushed, that Ealing does not support a third runway.

But there has been no clear public opposition.

Motion to Oppose

Because Ealing seemed to be sitting on the fence, the Conservative group tabled a motion at the full council meeting on 18th Dec:

“This Council states that it is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport. This Council therefore pledges to support those organisations and local authorities who are taking legal action against the plans to expand Heathrow Airport.”

The motion was supported by the LibDems.

Prior to the debate on this motion, a member of Ealing Green Party was allowed to ask a ‘public question’. He asked the question on Heathrow expansion and climate change, referring to the extra £2.9m tonnes of CO2 pa that would be emitted. This was referred to by the Conservatives and LibDems.

Labour Respond

The Labour response was, broadly:
* This is a national government decision and therefore there is little that Ealing can do.
* With severe cash constraints the council cannot justify spending money opposing it.
* Ealing seeks to get the maximum compensation/mitigation

There were a couple of speeches from Southall Labour cllrs supporting expansion. This included one from Cllr Rajinder Mann which, as pointed out from the public gallery by said Green Party member, sounded like a script provided by Heathrow.

We know it was because it quoted economic benefits from Heathrow’s propaganda, which is completely at variance with the official government estimates.

The Art of the Compromise

When it looked as if the motion would be voted down, the Conservatives adroitly amended the motion to the first part only:

“This Council states that it is opposed to a third runway at Heathrow Airport.”

It was then passed unanimously.

Written by Nic Ferriday

Why I’m Going Hungry This Weekend

This weekend I will be going on hunger strike.

Compared to some of the comrades who will be taking this action alongside me, I won’t be going that long without food (2 ½ – 3 days). But it should still be an interesting experience.

We are doing this for two reasons: firstly, we wish to highlight the madness and short termism of a government that wants to build an unnecessary 3rd runway at Heathrow. This expansion will bring negligible economic benefits to the country as a whole (as has been confirmed by the government’s own economic studies on the subject).

So the benefits will be little – however the impact on an already strained environment will be great. Air pollution, noise pollution and traffic congestion, already considerable in London, will be further proliferated.

But the greatest price we will pay for this vanity project is the acceleration effect towards catastrophic climate change that this will have. Aviation is one of the biggest contributors towards an atmosphere already heaving with human generated CO2.

And here we have a government that pays lip service to climate action while favouring the car industry and pushing fracking (even being prepared to override democracy) at the expense of clean, renewable energy sources.

We need to make a stand, now.

3 Line Whip

Jeremy Corbyn, if he is serious about climate action as he claims he is, needs to impose a 3 line whip on his Labour MP’s to vote AGAINST this disastrous expansion.

That’s why we’ll be sitting outside Labour Party HQ (105 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 6QT) every day from Saturday 9th June: to put pressure on Mr Corbyn to do exactly this.

I will be with them on Saturday 9th between Midday and 4PM, then on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th June between 8AM and 1PM.

And then my hardier comrades will continue the hunger strike into the week.

Why not come and say hello to us, and lend us your support?

#No3rdRunway #StopHeathrowExpansion #RisingUp


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