Climate campaigners have been protesting runway plans since they were approved in 2018
Ministers have faced pressure from campaigners to overturn their approval for the two-mile runway, in the face of growing concerns about climate change.
But a Department for Transport letter, published yesterday, confirms that transport secretary グラントシャップス has decided not to review the airports national policy statement (ANPS) “on the basis of climate change or carbon policy at this time”.
The letter states that, although the Climate Change Committee’s position on climate change and Parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency “represent a significant and unforeseen change in circumstances that was not anticipated at the time of designation of the ANPS”, it was not clear that the policy set out in the ANPS would have been “materially different” had these developments been taken into account.
The decision means that ministers can avoid reopening the debate on airport expansion.
This is just one of several hurdles the west London airport needs in order to build the new runway – last year the Court of Appeal ruled that the government decision to allow the runway was unlawful, as it was at odds with commitments to limit rises in global temperatures.
This was then overturned by the Supreme Court in December, in a ruling that was denounced as a step “backwards” by campaigners.
“They claim to recognise that their carbon policy represents significant changes of circumstances that couldn’t have been foreseen when the project was approved, yet seem unwilling to recognise the consequences of these significant changes – even as their own Climate Change Committee advises that there can now be no net expansion of UK aviation,” said Paul McGuinness, chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition.
“Heathrow expansion will not pass the planning stage of the process on a whole raft of issues, so why continue the policy any further now?” added Geraldine Nicholson of Stop Heathrow Expansion.
“It is certainly not in our national interest and locally thousands of people immediately around Heathrow must live with the proposals hanging over them for even longer while the government decides how best to save face by cancelling the plans. This decision is simply delaying the inevitable.”