27 Mar 2010

Great news re Heathrow - time to review Staverton

Great news! Government's nonsense plans for a third runway at Heathrow have been dealt a huge blow - see my letter to local press below calling for a review about the decision to expand Gloucestershire's Staverton Airport - plus how to buy a part of Heathrow.

Photo: poster from one of the demo's against Staverton and below one of the news articles about the protests

A legal challenge was mounted by a coalition of organisations that include Greenpeace. Lord Justice Carnwath ruled last week that the Government's decision to give a green light to the proposed third runway does not hold any weight. He said that their claims to the contrary were 'untenable in law and common sense'! The judge went on to say that the government's decision hadn't properly taken into consideration climate change policy or the economic case and surface transport! Effectively this means that for the runway to go ahead, the government will have to re-consult on these major issues as part of an overhaul of its wider aviation policy.

The judge ruled that:

• If the Government decides to push ahead with the runway project it must now review the climate change implications of Heathrow expansion, the economic case for a third runway, and the issue of how additional passengers would get to a bigger airport.

• The Government’s entire aviation policy must now be reviewed to take into account the implications of the 2008 Climate Change Act. The judge found that “the claimants’ submissions add up, in my view, to a powerful demonstration of the potential significance of developments in climate change policy since the 2003 Air Transport White Paper. They are clearly matters which will need to be taken into account under the new Airports National Policy Statement.”

• On the economic case for Heathrow expansion he would be ‘surprised’ if the recent tripling of the estimated cost to society of emitting carbon did not have ‘a significant effect’ on the economic case for the runway. The judge also said that “it makes no sense to treat the economic case as settled in 2003.”

• On the issue of surface access he said the claimants’ case – that there is no credible plan in place to transport millions of extra passengers to an expanded Heathrow - was ‘justified’. Significantly, he noted that the Government was “unable to provide a convincing answer” in court when it was pressed about over-crowding on the Piccadilly underground line that would result from construction of a third runway.

The judge is now inviting the Government to sign a legally binding undertaking that it will not base future aviation policy solely on its 2003 white paper. A further court hearing is expected to take place next month to examine the Government's response to the judge's request. At the same hearing the coalition will seek costs and fully expects to recover those costs from the Government.

Let us hope that this crucial ruling will have implications that go far wider than the aviation sector. For a judge to tell the Government that it cannot build huge pieces of carbon-intensive infrastructure without considering the long-term consequences is a resounding win in the fight to tackle climate change.

Buy some of Heathrow

Some might remember that I own a bit of Heathrow - well I'm one of 73,000 people who have become beneficial owners of Airplot and. More are still needed to reach 100,000 beneficial owners - so tell your family and friends to sign up! See more here: www.airplot.org.uk

My letter to The Citizen today

The Government’s Heathrow policy is in tatters after the High Court ruling that the decision to give a green light to the proposed third runway does not hold any weight. The judge said that the government's decision hadn't properly taken into consideration climate change policy or the economic case. In plans to expand Gloucestershire's Staverton Airport, common sense has also been thrown out of the window. Economic and environmental arguments have been ignored. Surely we should now review that absurd decision? Cllr. Philip Booth, Gloucestershire Airport Action Group

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

From nef:

The Department for Transport - and the aviation lobby - have long insisted that the economic benefits of expanding Heathrow Airport far exceed the environmental and social costs. Ministers have maintained their support for a third runway despite scepticism within the business community, and most recently a judicial review revealing that a third runway would be inconsistent with government climate change targets.

Now, a new Social Return on Investment study from nef reveals that the economic case for building a third runway at Heathrow doesn't stack up. We used the same economic modelling program as the DfT, but updated the input data, using new official figures for things like carbon prices, oil prices, exchange rates and economic growth predictions. We then took into account the broader costs to the community of noise and air pollution, which the DfT had seriously under-valued.

Our report, Grounded, concludes that expanding Heathrow will leave the UK £5 billion worse off. This is almost the inverse of what the DfT promised: they had originally said that the third runway would bring a £5.5 billion benefit to the UK.