Heathrow’s third runway could be revived in weeks
A crucial court decision that could revive plans to build a third runway at Heathrow will be announced within weeks, sources have told The Mail on Sunday.
Heathrow Airport Limited and rival Arora Group, which also wants to build a third runway there, have appealed to the Supreme Court over last month’s ruling that halted the project on environmental grounds.
The Supreme Court must now decide whether to hear the appeal.
If it agrees – and the appeal ultimately succeeds – the project would be back on, having been delayed by at least 12 months. But if the Supreme Court decides against hearing the appeal, Heathrow will be unable to proceed at all without a major intervention by the Government.
Plans to challenge the court ruling on a third runway at Heathrow are set to go ahead
Sources said that Supreme Court justices are likely to expedite the high profile case, meaning a decision on whether to hear the appeal is likely to be issued before the end of this month.
Heathrow’s third runway has been billed by business groups as vital to Britain’s prosperity as it forges a new path outside the EU. But the Court of Appeal declared the £14 billion project illegal because Ministers had failed to take into account the Paris agreement to cut climate emissions when they signed off the project in 2018.
The Government was lead defendant in the Appeal Court case, so its backing would have been the easiest route to securing a Supreme Court hearing.
But it decided not to appeal itself, leaving Heathrow Airport and Arora – owned by hotels tycoon Surinder Arora and which is heading a rival bid to build the runway – to battle to keep the project alive.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last month: ‘Airport expansion is core to boosting global connectivity. We also take seriously our commitment to the environment.
‘This Government won’t appeal today’s judgment given our manifesto makes clear any Heathrow expansion will be industry-led.’
Critics of the Government’s stance blame political wrangling for decades of delays. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also vigorously opposed a new runway in 2015 when he became MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip – just a few miles from Heathrow – even pledging to lie down in front of the bulldozers.
Heathrow Airport and Arora were listed as ‘interested parties’ at the appeal. The Supreme Court will have to decide if their arguments in favour of raising the case before the court are legally sound.
A spokeswoman for Heathrow said after the Appeal Court decision: ‘This ruling has meant there will be a delay in realising the benefits of Heathrow expansion until the Government remedies an eminently fixable issue. Failure to fix it rules out airport growth anywhere in the country and casts doubt on other infrastructure projects.’
She said Heathrow has taken a lead in meeting climate targets and that environmental concerns could be addressed within the plan.
Supporters warned further dithering could risk losing business to rival European airports. A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’