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The Supreme Court has overturned a judgement made in February that the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport was illegal.
The decision as part of a judicial review leaves Heathrow free
to seek a development consent order for the £14bn project.
The February ruling by the Court of Appeal found that the
government’s approval of the runway was illegal because ministers had failed to
take the UK’s commitments under the 2015 Paris climate accord into account,
which requires keeping the global temperature rise as close to 1.5C as
The Supreme Court ruling reverses that decision. However,
with passenger numbers down considerably at the airport as a result of the
coronavirus pandemic, Heathrow may delay the project, although it insisted
demand for the runway would still exist over the longer term.
In a statement, a Heathrow spokesperson said: “This is the
right result for the country, which will allow Global Britain to become a
reality. Only by expanding the UK’s hub airport can we connect all of Britain
to all of the growing markets of the world, helping to create hundreds of
thousands of jobs in every nation and region of our country.
“Demand for aviation will recover from covid, and the
additional capacity at an expanded Heathrow will allow Britain as a sovereign
nation to compete for trade and win against our rivals in France and Germany. Heathrow
has already committed to net zero and this ruling recognises the robust
planning process that will require us to prove expansion is compliant with the
UK’s climate change obligations, including the Paris Climate Agreement, before
construction can begin. The government has made decarbonising aviation a
central part of its green growth agenda, through wider use of sustainable aviation
fuel as well as new technology. As passenger numbers recover, our immediate
focus will be to continue to ensure their safety and to maintain our service
levels while we consult with investors, government, airline customers and
regulators on our next steps.”