The judicial review of the government’s decision to approve construction of a third runway at Heathrow begins today in London’s High Court of Justice.
Heathrow Hub, an independent proposal to expand the airport by extending an existing runway, is one of several claimants to request a review of the reasoning behind approving Heathrow’s own bid to build a third runway.
The group claims its proposal to accommodate more flights by extending the airport’s northern runway would be cheaper and could deliver increased capacity sooner than the third runway project. The plan was deemed viable by the Airports Commission but was rejected by transport secretary Chris Grayling – who is the named defendant in the judicial review.
Heathrow Hub claims its proposal was ruled out unfairly because the airport refused to agree to implement the scheme if it was approved by the government. It says Grayling’s decision to make an ‘effective precondition’ for Heathrow to accept the plan was unlawful under EU competition rules.
The claimants are also questioning the logic behind choosing the third runway option considering the scheme is allegedly more expensive than Heathrow Hub’s proposal, which would deliver at least the same capacity growth as an extended runway, according to the group.
Furthermore, Heathrow Hub claims its own scheme went through a “thorough and independent safety review with aviation experts and the CAA” but that the third runway option had not been subject to the same examination.
The review is expected to last two weeks, with Heathrow Hub’s element of the case to be heard near the end. The group has not said what it expects to get out of the review for itself, only that it would expect the government’s National Policy Statement on expanding Heathrow to be thrown out if the court rules in the claimants’ favour.
The news comes after the Department for Transport’s deputy director of aviation policy said expanding Heathrow would not deliver enough capacity to keep pace with growing demand.
The Civil Aviation Authority has previously questioned where Heathrow will get the money to pay for the third runway, raising concerns that the cost could be passed on to passengers through charges.
Heathrow recently reached an agreement with airlines to prevent passenger charges from increasing so long as carriers delivered higher load factors to spread the cost of the expansion across a wider passenger base.
Heathrow Hub’s legal advisers are DAC Beachcroft LLP, Martin Kingston QC and Satnam Choong of No 5 Chambers, as well as Robert O’Donoghue QC and Emma Mockford of Brick Court Chambers.
Other claimants involved in the review include a consortium of five local authorities (Hillingdon, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead), along with London mayor Sadiq Khan and environmental group Greenpeace; environmental network Friends of the Earth; environmental justice organisation Plan B; and Neal Spurrier, a resident of Twickenham.