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Climate Campaign May Ground Britain’s Economy

Campaigners will seek to block airport expansion across Britain following a High Court judgment which criticised the government’s decision to build a third runway at Heathrow.

Environmental groups linked to Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and a string of other airports hope to use the ruling to launch fresh challenges against plans for mass growth in flights and passenger numbers.

The judgment on Friday found that ministers had failed to take account of new, legally binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when they approved the expansion of Heathrow.

It comes after a two-year campaign by The Sunday Times revealed how BAA, the owner of Heathrow, colluded with the government to build the case for passenger growth.

Justine Greening, a Tory frontbencher who has led opposition to the third runway, said: “This ruling has profound consequences for airport expansion, not just at Heathrow but across the country. The law is there to protect people from overpowerful and vested interests and Friday’s ruling was a victory for the people.”

The government’s case for expanding Heathrow hinged on a seven-year-old aviation white paper. A coalition of local councils, residents and green groups argued that it failed to take into account statutory limits on CO2 emissions that were introduced in 2008.

Lord Justice Carnwath agreed, saying the government’s position was “untenable” and should be reviewed. The judge said: “Common sense demanded that a policy established in 2003, before important developments in climate change policy, should be subject to review in light of these developments.”

Carnwath declined to rule that Heathrow’s third runway should be abandoned, but the verdict could still have repercussions across the country.

At Stansted, BAA has announced plans for a second runway which would see passenger numbers rise from 24m to 68m by 2030. Carol Barbone, the director of Stop Stansted Expansion, said: “Without the security blanket of government policy to rely on, BAA knows its chances of securing a favourable result from a public inquiry are extremely doubtful.”

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