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Climate Change Act Delay Urged To Allow Airport Expansion

The Government should suspend its Climate Change Act to allow it to go ahead with a third runway at Heathrow, former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby said.

The prominent Tory global warming sceptic made his comments following a setback the Government received in the High Court last week.

Campaigners against the expansion plan claimed a legal victory after Lord Justice Carnwath said the Government’s policy support for a third runway, made in 2003 and confirmed in January last year, will need to be looked at again, particularly in respect of climate change policy and surface access.

Lord Lawson said at question time on Tuesday: “The third runway at Heathrow has been kiboshed by the courts as the direct and predictable result of the Government’s absurd Climate Change Act, which was passed with enthusiasm and complete thoughtlessness and acclaimed by all parties in this House and the Commons.”

He asked Transport Secretary Lord Adonis: “Is not the only possible solution – if you think that a third runway is important and I agree with you – to put the Act in suspense not least because even the Government has admitted that it makes no sense without international agreement, which Copenhagen shows is not obtainable?”

Tory transport spokeswoman Baroness Hanham asked Lord Adonis how the court judgment would affect the Government’s policy and, if re-elected, what plans they had to reopen consultation on the third runway.

Lord Adonis told peer: “We will consult on the National Policy Statement – we are required under the Planning Act 2008 to have such a consultation.”

But he added that the Lord Carnwath had said the 2008 act provided a “complete legal framework for consideration of all the issues on which the claimants rely”.

The Department for Transport has insisted that court judgment upholds the Government’s policy and does not require the consultation to be carried out again.

Lord Adonis added: “When the Government took the decision last year to allow the third runway application to proceed, it also asked the Committee on Climate Change’s advice on how to ensure the target of carbon emissions in 2050 were below the level in 2005. There is no incompatibility whatsoever in meeting our climate change and carbon reduction targets and allowing the expansion of Heathrow to take place, which is manifestly in the public and wider public interest.”

The Press Association, 30 March 2010