On 16 December the Supreme Court overruled a previous verdict that developing the Third Runway was in breach of the Paris Agreement on climate change, following an appeal by Heathrow Airport against the February decision. The five Supreme Court justices stated that the Transport Secretary had been correct in using a temperature increase limit of 2C (rather than the Paris Agreement aim of 1.5C) in determining that the expansion did not breach the requirements of agreements on climate change as that had been the applicable limit at the time the Airports National Policy Statement was finalised.
As a result, Heathrow can now seek planning permission for the runway but still has to convince a public enquiry of the case for expansion and, if planning inspectors approve the scheme, the government will have the final say. A full application from Heathrow Airport may still be more than a year away as the airport re-assembles a planning team and struggles to cope with the impact of the pandemic.
Ongoing campaigns and a new petition
Campaigners plan to launch legal challenges against each stage of the planning application, including at the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that relying on outdated emissions targets is inconsistent with the right to life. The No 3rd Runway Coalition said that a decision in favour of Heathrow would not change the underlying case against the proposed runway, pointing out that since the Airports Commission recommended Heathrow expansion five years ago, the “assessments on noise, air quality and carbon have been exposed as inadequate.”
Friends of the Earth have launched a petition demanding that the Prime Minister scraps his government’s plans for the Third Runway, saying they believe there’s a strong chance that the plans wouldn’t be compatible with climate policy if made today. You can find out more about the petition online.
February 2020 High Court ruling
The High Court ruling on 27 February 2020 stated that the government’s policy on expanding the airport was unlawful as it failed to take proper account of the impact on Britain’s climate commitments.
The judgement was delivered after a legal challenge brought by local councils, environment groups and the mayor of London. It ruled that legislation granting Heathrow the green light had ignored climate change commitments under the UN’s Paris Agreement, which limits global temperature rises and commits signatories to tackling climate change by taking measures to limit global warming to well below 2C.
In failing to take full account of the environmental impact, the current policy on a third runway at Heathrow was described as “legally fateful” to the Airports National Policy Statement (this effectively gave Heathrow outline planning consent) and should be withdrawn.
The judge emphasised that the court made no judgment on the merits of Heathrow expansion or whether a third runway could ultimately comply with the Paris Agreement. It was simply that it had not been considered when the statement was drawn up in 2017 and 2018, but should have been taken into account.
Third Runway threatens everyone in Chiswick
Heathrow’s proposals will cause major disturbance to all Chiswick residents with more flights, more noise and more pollution, possibly even if the Third Runway does not go ahead.
- Heathrow are proposing options that would result in 29 flights directly over Bedford Park and Chiswick between 06.00 and 07.00am – one plane every 2.4 minutes – at very high decibel levels, likely to wake people up. Up to 40 overhead flights per day are proposed at this stage, before implementation of the new runway.
- If the Third Runway is built, we would be even more significantly affected with incoming low-flying aircraft (at 2,000 – 3,000ft), 47 flights per hour (one every 1.5 minutes) and with all of the flights above the key 65-decibel level. There will be 17 departing flights per hour (one every 3.5 minutes), all above 65 decibels.
Our work to challenge the development
We continue to monitor developments, supporting the work of CHATR (Chiswick Against the Third Runway), keeping in touch with the No Third Runway Coalition, and taking action when necessary. We remain committed to supporting any further efforts to challenge this development, which represents such a significant threat to Bedford Park and Chiswick.
Many questions are still unanswered, such as safety; reconciliation with air pollution limits; binding Climate Change targets; the economics of the project, including creating access to the airport, and the adequacy of the government’s proposed compensation scheme.
We have continued to encourage members to respond to Heathrow Airport’s Airspace consultations, which will influence its proposals to the CAA for the development of the airspace of Chiswick and Bedford Park. We contacted members, summarising the key points and providing responses that the Society and CHATR suggested should be made to make the strongest case, and also submitted formal responses from the Society.
We attended a meeting with the Aviation Minister where CHATR emphasised the noise disruption which would be caused by the flight path passing over Chiswick and Bedford Park.
Guidance provided for responding to consultations
We have urged everyone to submit a response to each consultation.
For September 2019, we provided two suggested responses depending on whether you live in Bedford Park or the wider Chiswick area:
- Click here for the responses for Chiswick.
- Click here to find our suggested responses for Bedford Park residents.
We are grateful for input from the No 3rd Runway Coalition in compiling the responses.
The March 2019 consultation
The majority of this consultation was about airspace change, noise, respite, directional preference and night flights, which will follow the construction of the third runway, and full details are available online.
The Society’s response is available here.
Previous consultation in 2018
The Society submitted a formal response and encouraged everyone to submit an individual objection.
The Society’s response is available here.
The original full proposal produced by the Government can be seen online.
More detailed facts and figures are also available on the No 3rd Runway Coalition’s website.
As well as producing suggested responses and information on how to submit responses for members, we work with CHATR to help publicise the importance of responding to all Chiswick residents. Our efforts have been appreciated by members and residents alike.