The judgement from the Court of Appeal last Thursday was hailed as a great victory by those opposed to aviation and to expansion at London Heathrow in particular. It was also widely covered by mainstream media in the UK as leaving the new runway plan in ruins.
The truth is that this is not so.
All the court did was to rule that the government's Airports National Policy Statement did not specifically cover carbon targets set out in the Paris Agreement, to which the government had agreed.
As Parmjit Dhanda, of the Back Heathrow campaign group, points out in his statement below, the court did not rule that any other aspect of the expansion plan was illegal.
The hysteria over aviation and what appears to be a determined attack on air transport, aimed at closing down the industry completely, is beginning to border on the absurd. Nobody of sound mind will doubt that humanity must, at some point in the near future, stop putting toxicity into the atmosphere. But preventing people and goods, including food and medicines, from travelling by air is not the way to do it.
Statement from Parmjit Dhanda, Back Heathrow
The Court judgement was in no way the doom and gloom that the media and opposition would have us believe. It definitely wasn’t the end of the expansion campaign.
One thing is clear from the Court of Appeal ruling on 27th February. The judges said that the new runway could go ahead provided it fits in with the UK’s climate commitments. I don’t see that as a defeat and neither should [anybody else].
The judgement was not a question of whether there should be a new runway for Heathrow but about carbon targets (set out in the Paris Agreement) and that they were not specifically covered in the Airports National Policy Statement.
In fact, the Courts approved the plans on all other grounds – including air quality and noise.
Heathrow has already said it will appeal the decision to the UK Supreme Court and is confident of success. Heathrow is also ready to work with the government to fix the issue identified by the Court of Appeal.
Its eminently doable, and the government should crack on with it straight away. Let’s hope it does.
We know that Heathrow and the aviation industry have robust plans to decarbonise. The Sustainable Aviation Coalition (Heathrow, other airports and airlines) announced in February a commitment to achieve net-zero by 2050 through an international approach that will see it liaise with governments and the UN.
It says it can accommodate a 70% increase in passengers by 2050, while reducing carbon emissions from more than 30 million tonnes a year to net-zero. New aircraft and engine technology and smarter flight operations are some of the solutions to support this transition to a zero carbon industry.
Heathrow – already carbon neutral – has said it will zero carbon by the mid-2030s.
Back Heathrow is confident that the campaign for a new runway will succeed. It is crucial for the future of the economy both for local communities and UK plc.
Images - Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport is surrounded by legends and misleading information. The truth about the airport, why it was built where it is, the number of runways it once had and should have again, is covered in Kevan James' book Heathrow Airport 70 Years and Counting.
Also included are the stories of the lives of some of those who have worked there and use the airport as passengers.
Full details and reviews can be found on the home page