The UK’s Supreme Court has given Heathrow Airport’s proposed third runway the green light. The news comes after the Court of Appeal challenged the plans, claiming they broke the law on environmental grounds. This has been subsequently overruled in today’s hearing.
London Heathrow is Europe’s busiest airport, running at almost 98% capacity (pre-pandemic levels), and plans for a third runway have been in motion since 2009. Then Prime Minister Gordon Brown approved the plans, citing how it would help boost the UK economy and also provide up to 65,000 new jobs.
The current Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been one of the staunchest critics of the idea. During his time as London Mayor, he claimed he would ‘lie down in front of the bulldozers’ before construction would begin on a third runway. Current London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has also expressed his disapproval of the runway, and posted the following in response to the news.
This disappointing decision to allow Heathrow a third runway will have a damaging impact on air quality, noise and London's ability to achieve net-zero carbon by 2030. I urge Heathrow to work with us to protect jobs and create a greener recovery from the aviation crisis.
— Mayor of London (gov.uk/coronavirus) (@MayorofLondon) December 16, 2020
The Airport can now proceed to apply for planning permission to build the runway. If granted, the project will involve the purchase and demolition of more than 700 homes. Heathrow claims it will pay the owners the estimated market value plus 25 percent. In the meanwhile, politicians and environmentalists are expected to continue campaigning against the plans, given that the UK declared a climate change emergency in May 2019.
Matt is a London-based writer and reporter for International Flight Network who has been involved in aviation from a very young age. He has a particular focus on aircraft safety, accidents and technical details.