Mayor Sadiq Khan has welcomed an Appeal Court ruling blocking a planned expansion at Heathrow Airport.
Mayor Khan had joined forces with environmental groups and local councils to bring a legal challenge against a proposed new runway, arguing it was incompatible with the UK’s obligations to tackle climate change.
Today the Court of Appeal agreed saying ministers had failed to take into account the Paris climate agreement to limit global warming, although it said future plans could be brought forward provided they took account of such considerations.
Parliament had approved the controversial plans to build a third runway in 2018, a move welcomed at the time by business groups such as the CBI.
However the expansion was opposed by a number of senior MPs including Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell plus Tory MPs Greg Hands, who quit as a trade minister in order to be able to vote against the scheme, and former Mayoral contender Zac Goldsmith.
Former Mayor Boris Johnson, who’d once pledged to lie down in front of bulldozers to stop any new runway being built, was absent from the vote after arranging a sudden meeting in Afghanistan in his capacity as Foreign Secretary.
In his new role as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson has the power to stop any further plans for expansion at the airport.
In a statement issued after the ruling Mr Khan said: “Today’s landmark Heathrow judgment is a victory for Londoners and future generations.
“We face a climate emergency and I’m delighted that the Court of Appeal has recognised that the Government cannot ignore its climate change responsibilities.
“A new runway at Heathrow would have serious consequences on climate change, on air quality, on noise pollution, on road and rail networks and on the quality of life in our city.
“The government must now finally see sense and abandon plans for a third runway at Heathrow.
“We really are facing a climate emergency and it’s about time the government started taking action to address this. I will continue to stand up for London by doing everything I can to stop a new runway at Heathrow airport.”
London Assembly members also welcomed today’s result.
Caroline Russell, Chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee, said: “The London Assembly has spent many years investigating Heathrow Airport’s expansion plans, hearing from residents, climate experts, academics and we’re all on the same page; Heathrow Airport’s expansion plans should not go ahead.
“We’ve been very vocal in our opposition to a third runway at Heathrow Airport. From all sides of the political spectrum, this is an issue that we are utterly united on.
“Today’s ruling has been a long time coming and finally, we’re starting to see common sense prevail so that the climate and Londoners’ wellbeing are put ahead of the interests of the airline industry.
“The Assembly will continue to voice its opposition to any expansion at Heathrow Airport until all plans are off the table.”
Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson, Navin Shah AM, said: “In the midst of a climate emergency, it would have been nonsensical to proceed with plans to build a third runway.
“This would have grossly exacerbated air and noise pollution in the capital, setting back the significant progress that City Hall has made on tackling these issues.
“This a huge victory for Londoners, brought about the tenacious opposition of the Mayor, the London Assembly, local authorities and campaign groups.
“It is vital that the Government reminds itself again of the commitments it signed up to in the Paris climate agreement and swiftly throws its plans for Heathrow onto the scrapheap”.
Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth Council which also backed today’s challenge, said: “Today’s judgment is a vindication of what has been a prolonged fight by this council on behalf of our residents.
“For two decades when the third runway at Heathrow was first suggested Wandsworth has opposed it because we knew it would blight the quality of life for our residents.
“In putting forward the case for a third runway, successive governments have failed to consider the full impact such an expansion would have on the environment, noise levels, and residents’ health and well-being.
“I’m absolutely delighted by today’s judgement which comes at a time when this council has declared a Climate Change Emergency and is working hard to deliver the vision to become the greenest inner London borough and carbon neutral by 2030.
“The Government must now go back and revisit its airports policy and we all hope that this is the last time we hear of a third runway at Heathrow.”
He added: “I want to thank the very many residents of this borough who have supported us in our campaign, as well as our allies from beyond this borough. Without you we would not have managed this.”
Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson and MP for Twickenham, Munira Wilson, said: “This ruling is a victory for common sense. At a time when we should be promoting greener transport, we cannot allow the expansion of the country’s single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Conservatives for too long have pressed ahead with Heathrow expansion without any consideration for the impact not only on the climate, but also the impact on South-West London.
“Liberal Democrats hope this Tory government will do the sensible thing and consign the proposed third runway to the history books.”
Writing on Twitter, Mr McDonnell, who is the MP for Hayes and Harlington, said the result was a “tremendous victory for our campaign against the third runway at Heathrow.”
John Stewart, the chair of HACAN, the residents’ organisation which has been campaigning against a third runway since 2003, said, “It does look as if this is the end of the road for a third runway.
“It is hard to see a Government lead by Boris Johnson, who has always been against the runway, appealing against this decision.
“In fact, it probably gives the Prime Minister the opportunity he was looking for to drop the runway.”