First legal challenge to Colnbrook runway delayed due to “lack of jurisdiction”

A High Court challenge against a Colnbrook runway by four councils and Greenpeace failed yesterday because the court does not yet have jurisdiction to hear the claim.

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The first of several highly anticipated legal challenges to Heathrow expansion was stalled yesterday.  A judicial review of the Government’s backing for a Third Runway, brought by four local councils and Greenpeace UK, was dismissed in the High Court yesterday when the judge said he did not have jurisdiction to rule on the issue.

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils argued that the Government had failed to consult local communities or recognise the unlawful impact on air quality.

However, lawyers for the Transport Secretary successfully argued that no judicial review should be heard until after the consultation on the Government’s National Policy Statement (NPS) on aviation had taken place.

The case was struck out by Mr Justice Cranston on the basis the court “had no jurisdiction to hear the claim”.

The publication of a draft policy statement, which is expected this week, possibly on Thursday, will trigger a 16-week consultation period before being put to Parliament by the end of this year.

How they responded to the ruling

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, leader of Hillingdon Council, said the ruling was just the first step in what would be “a losing battle for the government” and that the ministers could not get around “the problem of unlawful air quality impacts”.

Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said: “The Government has delayed the inevitable. The expansion of Heathrow would be the worst environmental decision of any government in modern times.  And, the process in which ministers have made their decision is now proven to be inadequate, incompetent and goes back on a six year commitment never to expand the airport. We will be a thorn in the Government’s side until sense prevails.”

Cllr Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “The Government has taken a colossal gamble by delaying this legal action for at least a year.  The country is now going to waste more time developing a scheme that will never pass a simple legal test on air quality”.

Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the Windsor & Maidenhead Council, said: “The Royal Borough is disappointed for our residents but respects the decision of the courts. We will now participate in the upcoming public consultation process and would encourage all our residents to do likewise.”

Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven, said: “Expanding Heathrow will heap more misery on thousands of Londoners already breathing illegal levels of air pollution and make it impossible for the Government to comply with air quality laws.  The Government should ditch this project as they have promised to do many times in the past.”

BackHeathrow said: “Today’s decision is welcome news for the majority of local communities near Heathrow who back the airport’s expansion”.

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