Mayor backs Heathrow legal action
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hit out at the devastating environmental consequences of a third runway at Heathrow as he signalled his support for a potential legal challenge of the Government’s decision.
Today the Mayor revealed that he has directed Transport for London to provide advice and assistance to affected borough councils, including Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead, as they prepare for a joint legal challenge with Greenpeace against a third runway at Heathrow. It is likely that TfL will be named in this action as an interested party. As and when that is the case, the Mayor will take a decision on joining the legal challenge.
At Mayor’s Question Time, Sadiq reiterated that he is completely at odds with the Government’s decision to back Heathrow last month, as he highlighted the significant environmental impact that a third runway would have on Londoners’ lives.
Heathrow already exposes more people to aircraft noise than Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Madrid combined. An expansion would mean the intolerable prospect of an extra 200,000 Londoners, including 124 schools and 43,200 schoolchildren, being exposed to an unacceptable level of noise every day.
This disturbs the everyday lives of Londoners, leading to health problems related to stress and sleep disturbance, with noise exposure for school children reducing reading levels and memory recall.
A third runway will also lead to even higher levels of toxic air in an area where pollution is already well above legal levels for NO2 emissions.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I promised I wouldn’t just stand-by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution that a third runway would cause. These decisions show that I’m ready to help ensure that this misery isn’t inflicted on Londoners.
“That’s why I’ve directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, and Greenpeace as they prepare for a joint legal challenge, and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required.”
Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia said: “The Mayor’s commitment is very good news and will significantly strengthen our legal arguments. Transport for London’s resources and technical expertise will be hugely helpful to developing our case and exposing the deeply flawed logic supporting Heathrow expansion.”
Leader of Richmond Council, Lord True, said: “This is excellent news and I am grateful to Mayor Khan and his recognition that the fight against Heathrow is vital for all London and must be conducted across party lines. TfL are the best informed organisation on London transport links and know that the transport connections required for a third runway are simply undeliverable at the cost suggested by Heathrow PR men or without further air quality and noise pollution for Londoners.”
Greenpeace UK's executive director John Sauven: "A third runway at Heathrow will inevitably heap more misery on hundreds of thousands of Londoners already suffering from illegal levels of air pollution. It will also drive the UK's climate-warming emissions through the roof. Ministers are already on the run from a court ruling that has exposed their current air pollution plan as a sham. It's time for ministers to stop defending Heathrow’s right to pollute and blight our capital city and start championing people's right to breathe clean air and live in a healthy environment."
The Government has claimed that Heathrow expansion can be delivered within air quality requirements. However two weeks ago the High Court quashed its air quality plan for the country. The remodelling of this plan, together with more realistic emissions factors and the inclusion of a Heathrow expansion for the first time, is likely to demonstrate that a third runway is just not compatible with the Government’s duty to achieve – and sustain – legal levels of air quality.
The Government also needs to show how billions of pounds can be found to improve road and rail connections to Heathrow.
As part of his Mayoral Direction, Sadiq Khan directed TfL to further assess the impact on London of this proposed expansion, and work closely with the Government during the preparation of its National Policy Statement and planning process to ensure the significant environmental hurdles are fully appreciated.