A group of West London local authorities are preparing a legal challenge against the decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow Airport, on the grounds that the law on air quality has been ‘misapplied’.
Wandsworth, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham councils are challenging the decision, which was backed by MPs in a vote last month (see airqualitynews.com story).
Greenpeace and the Mayor of London are also likely to join the legal challenge, which is also on grounds of the climate change impact of the development.
Ministers have said that plans will not proceed unless the operator of the airport can demonstrate that the third runway can be delivered without creating additional levels of air pollution in the capital, and risking future non-compliance with air quality targets.
But, the councils argue that the government’s planning statement, in which it endorsed the third runway, ‘fails to recognise the scale of the challenge to accommodate additional trips without unacceptable effects on the transport network and unacceptable effects from traffic pollution’.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: “We have given the government numerous opportunities to address our concerns and answer our questions and they have demonstrably failed to do so.
“The government has misunderstood and misapplied the law on air quality, despite having already lost recent legal challenges on this issue. The evidence of unacceptable damage to the environment and the health and wellbeing of many thousands of people is untenable in both law and common sense.â€?
Councillor Ravi Govindia, Leader of Wandsworth council, said: “The councils have shown extraordinary patience. We have given the Government numerous opportunities to address our concerns and answer our questions. All the evidence shows that a new Heathrow runway will be bad for the environment in our boroughs and bad for the health of our residents.â€?