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First court appearance to challenge third runway at Heathrow

news release

“You can be in favour of Heathrow expansion, or you can be serious about stopping climate change.

You can’t be both”. Oliver Hayes, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth

  • Hearing to take place 4th October at The High Court from 10am, with public demonstration to commence outside the courts ahead of this
  • Runway decision also being challenged by other claimants on grounds of air quality and impact on local residents

Friends of the Earth has launched legal action against the government, in a bid to overturn the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow. Today (4th October) marks the first court session, with Friends of the Earth spokespeople available for interview.

The campaigners argue that the decision is unlawful due to its failure to consider the climate change and sustainable development implications of the project and the consequences on future generations (see notes for full explanation).

Oliver Hayes, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Expanding Heathrow serves a small minority of frequent flyers at a horrendous price for the planet. Backing airport expansion reveals a government refusing to seriously engage with the unfolding climate change disaster and undermining its own boasts of climate leadership.”

“Heathrow is already the single biggest source of emissions in the UK. Adding a third runway will make it virtually impossible for us to meet our climate change targets and demonstrates a shocking willingness to leave future generations stranded with climate-damaging infrastructure.”


  1. Court session taking place at The High Court before Mr Justice Holgate
  2. Friends of the Earth are taking the Government to court in a bid to overturn the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow. We believe the decision taken by the Government is unlawful because:
    1. it does not explain how it takes account domestic targets (and current climate policy) for greenhouse gas emission reduction under the Climate Change Act 2008;
    2. it does not lawfully and fully consider the likely impact on future generations of a third runway, who will be stranded with the climate-damaging infrastructure for many decades; including:
      1. it does not factor in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C;
      2. it fails to factor in the non-CO2 climate impacts of a third runway, such as the emission of nitrogen oxides, which generate warming effects of a similar magnitude to CO2 emissions;
    3. The NPS was based on a strategic environmental assessment that inexplicably failed to incorporate and assess the implications of the Paris Agreement


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