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Royal Borough leader hits out at government 'sabre-rattling' over Heathrow legal costs

Government should work with councils opposing Heathrow expansion instead of ‘sabre-rattling’ about claiming back legal costs, the Royal Borough leader has said.

Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) said ministers will need to work with those authorities to successfully bring about the third runway.

His comments came after transport minister Jesse Norman said last week the Department for Transport would aim to ‘recover up to £625,000’ in costs from parties which took the government to court in March over its support for a third runway.

Earlier this month, that attempt to win a judicial review against the third runway failed.

The Royal Borough had entered a coalition with other councils near Heathrow, the Mayor of London and environmental groups but judges ruled against their claims, which were made on grounds such as environmental impact.

Cllr Dudley said ‘we will fight’ any attempt to pursue legal costs, with the borough having already spent about £50,000 on the court case.

And he warned the Government: “Sabre-rattling is not going to be helpful because they have got to work with all of these local authorities and the Mayor of London going forward for years if they want to deliver this.”

Cllr Dudley said there is a cost-sharing agreement with the other parties involved in challenging the third runway at court.

He also confirmed that, as previously planned, a free vote on whether the Royal Borough attempts to appeal a decision will be held next month.

That will be contingent on whether opponents are given permission to appeal.

Cllr Dudley said he will set out his thoughts at that meeting – set for Tuesday, June 25 – but said he wanted to avoid ‘vexatious’ legal action.

Mr Norman said last week that the Department for Transport spent £1,608,642 in legal costs defending the judicial review and a further £95,152 in unspecified ‘other costs’.

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