No Heathrow expansion? No airport expansion?

By | Category: Travel news

This morning the Court of Appeal ruled against the third runway plan that Heathrow Airport wants to develop.

The projected expansion at Heathrow. Will it now be consigned to the dustbin? Image – Heathrow Airport

The reason? The government hadn’t taken into account the UK’s commitment to climate control and reducing emissions by 2050.

The government has decided not to appeal the case but the airport has. This will now go to the Supreme Court where the outcome will be awaited with especial interest as the Appeal Court’s decision on climate change reasons means that any infrastructure project could come under similar scrutiny.

Various lobby groups have said that the UK must have this additional capacity in order to consolidate our global standing or to maintain our import/export capabilities.

The GMB union issued a press release within a few hours of the ruling calling on the government to change the law saying “Unless the law is changed it will lead to an unwelcome rationing of air travel by a general strategy of pricing of it out of reach of ordinary people. It will be available only to those with way above average incomes.“ That the GMB would have seen thousands of its members employed on the airport expansion is pure coincidence.

But the ruling – if it is confirmed by the Supreme court – will have ramifications at any other UK airport considering expansion.

Gatwick, which is usually so voluble about Heathrow expansion, has been very quiet today. Could it be that they are wondering whether this judgement might block their own plans?

Doncaster-Sheffield has expansion plans including the building of a railway line linking the airport to the main east coast line. Birmingham Airport launched a £500 expansion plan last year as did Gatwick but these plans don’t envisage runways. The question is whether plans outside runway development might fall foul of the same interpretation of the law.

For passengers, the ruling has little impact at present. It may in the future if any airports want to expand

In the meantime both sides of the argument will trot out the arguments that we have grown so used to over the last decade. 

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