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Aviation: Heathrow challenges get underway

Legal challenges aimed at preventing the construction of a third runway at London Heathrow Airport have got underway with a pre-trial hearing on a claim lodged by Friends of the Earth. The first full hearing is set start on March 11 and is expected to last ten days.

Hearings into campaign group challenges seeking to halt the expansion of Heathrow Airport have commenced.

Another challenge has been launched by the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead backed by Greenpeace and London mayor Sadiq Khan. Heathrow Hub, Plan B and a resident of nearby Twickenham have also been allowed to have their cases heard in the Royal Courts of Justice.

Laura MacKenzie, a climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "The government should never have entertained the idea of a climate-wrecking third runway, with Heathrow already the UK’s single biggest source of emissions... The government should cancel the third runway and adopt fair and equitable policies to keep aviation demand within environmental limits, such as a frequent flier levy."

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has said that challenges to the expansion were expected and have been accounted for in government plans.

Not the right time

Sigh! The Aviation Oracle was aware the action was coming, but believes it is rather misguided. During the last few months has been overwhelming and still ongoing debates about the UK parliament enacting the will of the people. The Airports National Policy statement and the plans to extend Heathrow have also been scrutinised by parliament, and have been supported by MP's votes.

The United Kingdom's economy depends on a vibrant air transport industry which has room to expand, especially as the country builds more independent relationships following its exit from the EU. Now is not the time to be attempting to prevent the growth of the industry, either by penalising it through restrictions on airport capacity of punitive taxes.

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