Supreme Court rules that the Airports NPS…

Supreme Court rules that the Airports NPS is legal; climate issues of a Heathrow runway would have to be decided at the DCO stage
2020-12-16 12:07:00
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Airports NPS is lawful. In February 2020 the Appeal Court had ruled that it was not, on climate grounds. The ANPS is the national policy framework which governs the construction of a Heathrow 3rd runway.  Any future application for development consent to build this runway will be considered against the policy framework in the ANPS. The ANPS does not grant development consent in its own right. The Supreme Court rejected the legal challenges by Friends of the Earth, and Plan B Earth, that the then Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, had not taken climate properly into account, nor the UK’s commitments under the Paris Agreement. These are tricky points of law, and definition of the term “government policy” rather than the reality of climate policy.  Heathrow is now able to continue with plans to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) which is the planning stage of the runway scheme.The Supreme Court said at the DCO stage, Heathrow would have to show “that the development would be compatible with the up-to-date requirements under the Paris Agreement and the CCA 2008 measures as revised to take account of those requirements” and “The Court further holds that future applications [for the runway] will be assessed against the emissions targets and environmental policies in force at that later date rather than those set out in the ANPS.” .Tweet   Top UK court overturns block on Heathrow’s third runway Earlier ruling said expansion plan was illegal as government had not considered its climate commitments By Damian Carrington  Environment editor  @dpcarrington    (The Guardian) Wed 16 Dec 2020  The supreme court has overturned a February judgment that a third runway at Heathrow airport was illegal. It means the project can now seek planning permission, but the ultimate completion of the runway remains uncertain. The supreme court ruling marks the latest twist in years of legal and political wrangling over the climate impact and economic benefits of expanding the airport. The decision in February was seen as historic by environmental campaigners, as it was the first significant ruling in the world to be based on the Paris climate agreement, and related cases were subsequently brought against plans to build more roads and gas-fired power plants in the UK. The Court of Appeal had found the government’s approval of the runway was illegal because ministers had failed to take into account the UK’s commitments under the 2015 Paris climate accord, which requires keeping global temperature rise as close to 1.5C as possible. But following arguments by Heathrow’s lawyers, the supreme court found this was not necessary and overturned the judgment. The ruling means the airport can now seek a Development Consent Order (DCO), a type of planning permission for nationally significant infrastructure. This may be difficult, as it will take into consideration stricter pledges to cut emissions made recently by the UK government, which had accepted the February decision. Since the runway [not strictly he runway, but the policy document the Airports NPS] was approved in 2018, the UK has committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and on 4 December it pledged to cut carbon emissions by 68% by 2030. The climate crisis is worsening as CO2 levels continue to rise in the atmosphere and international attention is focused on the UK’s actions because it will host a critical UN climate summit in November next year in Glasgow. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Heathrow was one of the world’s busiest airports, with 80 million passengers a year. The £14bn third runway would bring 700 more planes a day and a big rise in carbon emissions. However, Covid-19 travel restrictions have devastated aviation and Heathrow has said the runway could be delayed by five years, having previously set 2028 as a completion date. Other observers said the third runway may now never be needed. “I still don’t think the third runway is going to happen,” said Tim Crosland, a lawyer at Plan B, which brought the legal case against Heathrow. “The really damaging thing [about the supreme court ruling] is the precedent for the other cases.” He said the court of appeal ruling that the UK’s Paris agreement commitments must be considered had been a “really strong lever” in legal arguments against high-carbon infrastructure. Crosland said he was considering an appeal to the European court of human Rights, an option not affected by Brexit. The verdict was under court embargo until Wednesday morning, but Crosland tweeted it on Tuesday as “an act of civil disobedience”, risking contempt of court. “I had no choice but to protest the deep immorality of the court’s ruling,” he said. The supreme court also overturned a parallel Friends of the Earth case. Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said: “We are disappointed, but pleased that [the judgment] confirms our view that climate impacts will still need to be fully determined at planning. Heathrow airport expansion remains in doubt and harder than ever, given the [UK’s] increasingly stringent climate policy.” “We are in this for people everywhere facing climate breakdown right now, and for the next generation who are being left to inherit a world changed for the worse,” Rundle said. “Approving Heathrow’s third runway is a betrayal of our children’s future and incompatible with the UK’s climate commitments,” said Magdalena Heuwieser from the Stay Grounded campaign. “We condemn the reckless and irresponsible verdict. But this fight is far from over.” Parmjit Dhanda, at the campaign group Back Heathrow, [paid by the airport] said: “This is an important moment for local communities, desperate for job


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