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Four councils formally launch legal action over Heathrow expansion

Four local authorities have formally served legal papers accusing the Government of unlawfully supporting the expansion of Heathrow.

A ‘coalition’ comprising Hillingdon, Richmond and Wandsworth councils and the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon, argued in their submission to the High Court that the Government had previously said it would not give its backing to expansion of the airport.

Harrison Grant Solicitors, the claimants’ lawyers, expect the case to be heard in the High Court early next year.

The claimants argue that “the Government has failed to recognise the project’s unlawful air quality impacts and that the consultation held to make the decision was fundamentally flawed”. The legal challenge seeks to hold the Government to the promise that a third runway would never be built.

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Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: ''The Government has stubbornly refused to accept that it is breaking the law on the very important issue of air quality in relation to Heathrow. Therefore, this council, together with the London Boroughs of Wandsworth and Richmond upon Thames, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident, have had no option other than to issue judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

"There are two grounds of challenge at this stage. In addition to our claim that there has been a significant breach of established air quality laws, we have also claimed that the Government has acted contrary to our legitimate expectation that it would honour its repeated promises not to expand Heathrow. However, it has been made very clear to the Government that we have fully reserved our position in relation to other matters of complaint such as climate change, equalities, noise pollution and the economic case for Heathrow expansion and that, if necessary, further legal proceedings will be brought in the future."

Harlington resident Christine Taylor, a co-claimant in the judicial review, said: "We lived under the shadow of a third runway for decades. Then we were promised over and over again that it wouldn't go ahead, and now the nightmare has started all over again.

“This is hugely unfair on local residents who were also promised that they wouldn’t still be suffering the high levels of noise and air pollution that Heathrow generates. Many people around here have made crucial choices like buying a home or taking up a job based on ministers' promises. Now their life plans have been shattered. If ministers want to go through with this injustice, we're ready to go to court to stop them."

Last month the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, directed Transport for London to “provide advice and assistance” to the local authorities in their preparation for the joint legal challenge with Greenpeace against the third runway.

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