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Britain Gridlocked By Climate Act

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Judge rules against Heathrow expansion over climate change concerns – Campaigners declare victory in case that could have major implications for all future carbon intensive projects.

Environmental groups this morning claimed victory in their fight to block the proposed expansion of Heathrow airport after a High Court judge ruled that the government’s case for a third runway needs to be re-examined.

Lord Justice Carnwath ruled that the government had failed to adequately review the environmental implications of its decision to approve plans for third runway and said its claims to the contrary were “untenable in law and common sense”.

The judge ruled that the government must undertake a fresh review of the climate change implications of the proposed third runway, the economic case for expansion and how it plans to deal with increased numbers of passengers trying to reach the airport.

He also said that the government should re-visit its entire aviation policy in light of the 2008 Climate Change Act, which sets legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050.

He ruled that “the claimants’ submissions add up, in my view, to a powerful demonstration of the potential significance of developments in climate change policy since the 2003 Air Transport White Paper. They are clearly matters which will need to be taken into account under the new Airports National Policy Statement.”

In addition, he said he would be “surprised” if the recent tripling of the economic cost of emitting carbon did not have a “significant effect” on the economic case for Heathrow expansion, suggesting that the economic case as established back in 2003 should not be regarded as “settled”.

Lord Justice Carnwath is now inviting the Government to sign a legally binding undertaking commitment to no longer base future aviation policy solely on its 2003 white paper and a further court hearing is expected next month to examine the Government’s response.

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