Court proceedings started in the UK Feb. 23 to review the government’s decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow Airport, prompted by a legal challenge by a coalition of thirteen organizations including WWF, Greenpeace, RSPB and CPRE, reports This Is Local London. The group claims the consultation process was flawed and the decision opposes the UK’s climate change targets
Opposition to the third runway goes as far back as 2008 when a battle of words was waged between both sides. At the time, British Airways was cited for making false claims about the environmental impact of the runway expansion at Heathrow, claiming the expansion would greatly reduce CO2 emissions, while two environmental agencies, Airport Watch and enoughsenough, were told it had to change an ad campaign after making unsubstantiated claims about the level of public opposition to the airport expansion.
Now, WWF says if a third runway is built at Heathrow, the airport will become the single largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK, and destroy 700 homes — the entire village of Sipson.
The coalition says the decision to proceed with a third runway was made by then-Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon in a statement to parliament in January 2009, who tried to sway parliament by proposing a number of additional environmental measures.
The coalition is alleging that these added measures mean the expansion plans are now fundamentally different to the original proposals, which the government consulted the public about in 2007, reports WWF.
One of the new measures was a target to reduce aviation carbon emissions to 2005 levels by 2050. In response to the UK government’s request on how it could meet the target, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said it would have to severely curtail its plans for airport expansion throughout the UK, reports eGov Monitor.
The coalition argues that the expansion of Heathrow cannot proceed now since the policy has been discredited, reports eGov.
Another measure states that the runway would only be used at half its capacity until a review in 2020 that would evaluate noise and air pollution as well as if carbon targets could be met, reports eGov. Opponents say imposing this limit destroys the economic case for a third runway, while it destroys the village of Sipson.
The coalition also argues, supported by Transport for London, that there is no evidence to support the UK government’s claim that there will be enough public transport to serve the new runway.