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Heathrow given permission to appeal third runway block

George Roberts

Viewpoint letters (June 27, 2019)

The proposed third runway at Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has been granted permission to appeal against a block on plans for a third runway.
 
In February the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s support of the third runway plans was unlawful as it did not take into account the climate change impact it would have.
 
On Thursday, May 7, the Supreme Court granted the airport permission to appeal the decision; a day after London Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told MPs that the runway would not be needed for another ’10-15 years’ following the coronavirus outbreak at a Transport Committee hearing.
 
A Heathrow Airport spokeswoman said: “Responding to the impacts of COVID-19 is our priority right now. We do believe that once the benefits of air travel and connectivity have been restored in years to come, an expanded Heathrow will be required. 
 
“This privately funded project will see billions of pounds pumped into the UK’s economy, stimulating sectors across the country and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.
 
“To that end, we are pleased to have been granted permission by the Supreme Court to appeal. Heathrow is more than just an airport, it is the cornerstone of the UK economy and will be the engine room that powers our regions back to growth in the future.”
 
The court has not given a date on when the hearing will take place. The government has stated it will abide by the decision of the Supreme Court.
 
John Stewart, chairman of campaign group Hacan, which represents residents who live under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “Today’s [May 7] ruling was much as expected.  The surprise would have been if an appeal on an issue as big as this had not been allowed.  
“What it does not mean is that the third runway is back on track.  Heathrow remains very much on its own as the government is not backing its appeal.
 
“There is real uncertainty about future demand as the country emerges from lockdown.  
 
“Investors will want to make sure they will get a real return on their money before agreeing to the £14 billion needed for a third runway which could easily rise by the time it goes ahead.”
 
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye also cast some doubt over the future of the runway when he spoke at a Transport Committee hearing last Wednesday.
 
He said: “We are still pursuing the appeal to the Supreme Court for the third runway.
 
“As to when and whether it will be needed, we will have to see how things turn out over the next few years. 
 
“If we are successful in rebuilding the UK economy, we will need it in 10 to 15 years’ time. If we are not, we are all in a very different world.”

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