The UK government has just announced its approval of a third runway at London Heathrow. The final parliamentary vote on the decision is likely to happen in the winter of 2017/18 but the government has some very difficult questions to answer before then.
Reacting to the announcement, ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “There are two potentially insurmountable obstacles to Heathrow’s expansion. Firstly, even without expansion, the area around Heathrow will continue to be in breach of legal air pollution limits until 2025 at least, under the government’s current projections.
“In April last year the Supreme Court ordered the government to produce new plans to achieve air quality limits. Those plans were so poor, that last week we took them back to the High Court to force action on air pollution. The government needs to produce an in-depth and credible plan to drastically cut air pollution to meet its legal obligations rather than digging an even deeper hole for itself.
“Secondly, from the perspective of climate change, it makes very little difference whether extra capacity is created in Hillingdon or West Sussex. Expanding either Heathrow or Gatwick would make meeting our 2050 carbon emissions target significantly more difficult than it already is.”