| Press Release - 26 March 2010
GOVERNMENT AIRPORT POLICY IN DISARRAY AFTER HIGH COURT RULING ON HEATHROW
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed a High Court ruling today [26 March] that the Government's 2003 Air Transport White Paper is outdated and needs to be rewritten to take account of climate change targets. Today's judgment has major implications for airport expansion battles across the UK.
The ruling effectively denies policy support for new runways at not only Heathrow but also Stansted where BAA has clung steadfastly to the notion that the 2003 White Paper provides an absolute mandate for its second runway plans. The judgment was delivered by Lord Justice Carnwath in response to a Judicial Review brought by Greenpeace and 12 other groups, including local councils, residents' groups and other leading environmental organizations, against proposals for a third runway at Heathrow.
The judge said that the Government's 2003 Air Transport White Paper did not fully take into account the effects of climate change and must be radically overhauled to bring it in line with the 2008 Climate Change Act and other material changes since the aviation policy was first published. He also ruled that the carbon costs of aviation emissions need to be included when assessing the economic benefits of airport expansion. This is a vindication of SSE's position and marks a reversal of the position taken by the Inspector at the Stansted public inquiry in 2007. It is also a reversal of the position taken by the High Court last year when SSE's was unsuccessful in seeking to overturn the Government's decision to approve full use of Stansted's runway.
SSE has long maintained that the expansion of air travel proposed by the Government in 2003 cannot be reconciled with the objective of achieving an 80 percent cut in the UK's carbon emissions by 2050. Even the Climate Change Committee - the Government's own independent watchdog - recently advised the Government that around half the planned airport expansion in the UK would have to be scrapped if the Government's own aviation emissions target is to be met and that therefore it needed to review its 2003 aviation expansion policy accordingly.
SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone commented on today's news saying: "BAA will be only too aware of the scale of the setback to its plans from today's ruling. Without the security blanket of Government policy to rely on, the airport operator knows its chances of securing a favourable result from any future public inquiry into a second runway at Stansted are extremely doubtful."
NOTES TO EDITORS
The judgment is available online
The press release issued by Greenpeace on behalf of the claimants is online
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091 & firstname.lastname@example.org