MD1535 Heathrow Public Inquiry costs

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Code: 
MD1535
Date signed: 
17 August 2015
Decision by: 
Sir Edward Lister (past staff), Mayor’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor, Policy and Planning.

Executive summary

This Mayoral Decision asks that the Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning acting under his delegated authority agrees for GLA to make a financial contribution towards the legal costs the London Borough of Hillingdon incurred in jointly defending (along with the Mayor) its refusal of a planning application by Heathrow Airport Ltd (HAL) to add additional operational capacity to its Northern Runway, which the Mayor found to be contrary to the London Plan and if approved, would worsen noise impacts on many residents, businesses and open spaces lying to the east of the runway.

Decision

The Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning approves expenditure of £75,000 from the Greater London Authority’s smoothing reserve to contribute to the legal costs Hillingdon Council incurred at a Public Inquiry into its refusal of a planning application by Heathrow Airport Limited to add additional operational capacity to its Northern Runway.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The London Borough of Hillingdon refused a planning application by Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) to add additional operational capacity to its Northern Runway on the 24 March 2014 which the Mayor had previously found to be contrary to the London Plan (see attached report and letter dated the 18 December 2013). HAL subsequently appealed this refusal which was considered at a three week Public Inquiry in June 2015. 
1.2    Because of the clear and extensive adverse noise impacts the application would cause to densely populated parts of west London, the GLA worked closely with officers from TfL, Hillingdon and Hounslow Councils to contest the appeal, and in order to reduce costs, used the same technical consultants and legal team. TfL appointed and funded a noise consultant at a cost in the region of £110,000 and the GLA’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning agreed to contribute up to £50,000 towards the combined authorities legal costs on the 2 of May 2014 (see attached letter) which were then estimated to be in the region of £100,000. However, actual legal costs were £200,000 as a result of the extent and length of the Inquiry, and Hillingdon Council have asked in March 2015 that the GLA increases its potential contribution to £75,000. The Inquiry has now formally closed and this request is now being progressed. 
1.3    This decision proposes to allocate and authorise expenditure of £75,000 to contribute to the local planning authority’s significant legal costs which it incurred at this Inquiry. The appeal has been recovered by the Secretary of State and a decision is expected towards the end of this year, which if allowed would significantly worsen the airport’s noise impacts for many residents, businesses, schools and open spaces across significant parts of London.
1.4    The Deputy Mayor and GLA and TfL officers therefore welcomed the Council’s efforts to avoid this situation which would have clear strategic implications that would extend significantly beyond its administrative boundary. A contribution to the Council’s legal fees would therefore be an exceptional contribution, directly arising from the scale and impacts of the airports operations.

 

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    To support a joint robust case at the HAL planning inquiry. 

Equality comments

3.1    Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, in making these decisions “due regard” must be had to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics include age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation (and marriage or civil partnership status for the purpose of the duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination only). This duty has been taken into account, but no additional equality impact assessments are required beyond those considered in the relevant planning documentation for the Mayor to make these decisions.

Other considerations

4.1    This decision responds to a previous Mayoral decision that Heathrow Airport’s planning application was contrary to the London Plan, and hence its granting would subvert one of the Mayor's statutory strategies and result in significant environmental harm to residents, businesses and noise sensitive uses such as schools and open spaces within London.

Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for expenditure of £75,000 as a contribution to Hillingdon Council’s legal costs that it incurred at a Public Inquiry into its refusal of a planning application by Heathrow Airport Limited to add additional operational capacity to its Northern Runway.
5.2    This cost will be funded from Planning Smoothing reserves and be made in 2015-16. 

 

Investment and Performance Board

7.1    This matter was considered by the Investment and Performance board in July 2015 as an urgent item and approved in principal.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

Activity

Timeline

Public Inquiry

June – July 2015

HAL - Payment to the London Borough of Hillingdon

August 2015

Inspector’s recommendation

October/November 2015

Secretary of State’s decision

Dec 2015/January 2016

Appendices and supporting papers

Appendices and supporting papers:
1.    Stage 1 report and letter to Hillingdon Council dated 18 December 2013.
2.    Letter from the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning dated 2 May 2014.
3.    Letter from Hillingdon Council requesting the GLA increase its contribution towards its legal costs from dated 23 March 2015.