2 April 2020: Update from the Stop Heathrow Expansion campaign group
Heathrow expansion declared unlawful A month has passed since the Government's Heathrow expansion policy was declared unlawful. We are now in uncertain times as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and operations at Heathrow are considerably reduced for the time being. Ray Puddifoot MBE, the leader of Hillingdon Council, which is a leading party in the challenges against the proposals, said outside the High Court that “this time we should be able to put the nail in the coffin for Heathrow expansion once and for all and protect residents who have for far too many years suffered form the blight on their homes and communities." We agree, however, the threat of expansion is not over just yet, so our campaign must go on to ensure we can protect our communities and quality of life from being devastated by any expansion at Heathrow. We therefore feel this is a good time to outline what the next steps are likely to be. In order for Heathrow to expand, the Government must put in place a lawful Airports National Policy Statement that takes into account the Paris climate change agreements. Unless and until a lawful ANPS is in place, there can be no expansion at Heathrow. What happens next? Immediately after the Court of Appeal's judgment, John McDonnell MP convened a public meeting in Harmondsworth on 3rd March. This was a well-attended local meeting and there were lots of questions from residents, particularly about what will happen from this point onwards and how much longer the area will suffer blight. We have put together an advice sheet on the next steps for the campaign and the process to which it will now follow. You can view it electronically here. Below are some answers to some common themes raised at the meeting and over the weeks since, following the emergence of COVID-19.
Frequently asked questions Is the campaign against expansion now over? No, there are a number of legal, planning and political hurdles still to overcome. Please see the Next Steps advice sheet for the full picture. Will the COVID-19 situation impact the timetable going forward? Heathrow’s operations are now very limited, and the airport may yet close. The government has said in answer to a question from Tan Dhesi MP, that its efforts are totally focused on the impact of COVID-19 and it will consider the Court of Appeal judgment in "due course". This is likely to mean a further delay to the Government’s review of the ANPS which was previously expected later in 2020. What is Heathrow doing? Heathrow Airport has already placed the expansion project into a “deep freeze” and has reorganised its management. The Director of Expansion role no longer exists. Heathrow have cancelled the further consultation they had announced from April to June. The illegality of the ANPS means that plans for an additional 25,000 flights per year – to operate before a 3rd runway opened – are also in the “deep freeze.” Do not expect to get any more Land Referencing documents or other expansion information from them any time soon. Note though, that Heathrow have not put their campaign into deep freeze and will be continuing to lobby the Government to push ahead with the (amended) plans. What does the ruling mean for those suffering with continued blight from the proposal(s)? Unfortunately, it means that a final decision on Heathrow’s proposals will be further delayed but, looking on the bright side, it is less likely that they will eventually get the go-ahead. Added to the delays due to the legal processes mentioned above are the further delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Labour eadership election The Labour Party has been in the process of electing a new leader - Lisa Nandy, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey are the three candidates. When we approached each of them last month, they all confirmed they are against the expansion of Heathrow. This is a positive step and we hope to be able to continue our constructive working relationship with the Labour Party under their new leader, which is announced on Saturday 4th April. The Guardian also put the question of support for Heathrow expansion to each of the candidates in a recent interview. You can view their answers here.
19 March 2020
On 27 February 2020, the Court of Appeal on the Judicial Review against the Government’s policy on Heathrow expansion ruled that the Aiport National Policy Statement (ANPS) was unlawful (the decision was not about whether Heathrow expansion should happen). The Government has indicated it will not appeal the ruling, but instead the promoters of Heathrow expansion have said that they will appeal to the Supreme Court, which was due by 19 March. Whilst the ANPS is suspended, Heathrow is unable to submit a Development Consent Order (DCO) application as there is no enabling policy in place. This means that there will be a change in pace to Heathrow's expansion programme, although they will continue to discuss expansion issues alongside all airspace and noise issues through their regular forums. More information here.