Heathrow runway legal victory sets world climate precedent

27 February 2020

Friends of the Earth England Wales & Northern Ireland has won a historic legal battle to protect the climate from Heathrow expansion and push the British government to act in accordance with the climate emergency. This ruling is an absolutely ground-breaking result for climate justice.

Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth England Wales & Northern Ireland, said:

“This ruling is an absolutely ground-breaking result for climate justice. We were fighting a project that would have had dire implications for present and future generations.

“We are delighted with The Court of Appeal’s ruling, which goes to show the massive importance of the legal system to check the clear abuse of state power by government, such as in this case.

“Shockingly, this case revealed that the government accepted legal advice that it should not consider the Paris Agreement when giving the third runway the go-ahead. The Court has said very clearly that was illegal.

“This judgment has exciting wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions. It’s time for developers and public authorities to be held to account when it comes to the climate impact of their damaging developments.”

Heathrow expansion plan stopped dead in its tracks

The Court of Appeal in London ruled that government acted illegally in their plans to expand Heathrow airport. This stops the climate wrecking plan dead in its tracks and holds government to account for acting in complete contradiction of the climate emergency at a time when we need urgent action.

 

Climate not considered

The legal victory follows an ongoing legal battle over the project. In this case, Friends of the Earth and its lawyers successfully argued that the impact on the climate was not given due consideration (in line with legal requirements) when planning the expansion - in particular the plan did not to factor in the Paris Agreement, nor the full scale of climate impacts aviation would create.

Worldwide implications

Commenting on the victory and its implications for other countries, Jagoda Munic, director of Friends of the Earth Europe said:

“This victory for Friends of the Earth and allies sets a global precedent - Heathrow airport expansion has been ruled unlawful because it failed to consider compatibility with the Paris climate agreement.

“The UK court reminds the world that decision makers need to take their climate obligations seriously – they have to stop climate killing projects now, or risk being taken to court.

“Campaigners worldwide will not hesitate to use the law in multiplying similar cases to defend the climate and defeat dirty projects.”