Court of appeal Heathrow decision – West London Business response

Heathrow statement post Court of Appeal decision:

“The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on “noise” and “air quality” – apart from one which is eminently fixable.  We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful.  In the meantime, we are ready to work with the Government to fix the issue that the court has raised.  Heathrow has taken a lead in getting the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to get to Net Zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Accord. Expanding Heathrow, Britain’s biggest port and only hub, is essential to achieving the Prime Minister’s vision of Global Britain.  We will get it done the right way, without jeopardising the planet’s future. Let’s get Heathrow done.”

 Andrew Dakers, CEO, West London Business commented:

“Judicial reviews are a common feature of major infrastructure projects, and today’s announcement explicitly does not prevent Heathrow expansion from moving ahead. The judgment clearly states that this ruling does not mean Heathrow expansion should not be delivered, or that the Airports National Policy Statement is not compatible with the UK’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions.”

“Expanding the UK’s only hub airport is absolutely crucial for the future success of the whole of the country, particularly outside the European Union.

“The Prime Minister should respect the decision of Parliament to overwhelmingly back this project; plans which have been through years of independent scrutiny and analysis.  Boris should also recognise the huge local support for Heathrow expansion:  There is more support than opposition in a majority of local constituencies – 16 out of 18 constituencies, including Boris’ own, support expansion.  Does the PM really want France to continue to leapfrog England on our airport capacity?

“Stopping Heathrow expansion will not stop emissions – it will just push the problem elsewhere with people simply flying from other airports with weaker environmental targets.   Heathrow has become one of the world’s first major aviation hubs to become carbon neutral in its ground operations – quadruple certified by The Carbon Trust.   Carbon emissions have been reduced by 93%, alongside offsetting through investment in restoring UK peatlands.  This pioneering work must now extend to flights too, which is starting with the CORSIA initiative.”

The judges now require the Government to undertake more work to ensure a third runway would definitely be compatible with a strategy to mitigate climate change under the Paris Agreement. This is eminently achievable. Since the original court hearing, which unanimously backed the government’s process with regard to the ANPS, the UK aviation industry has produced a comprehensive and detailed plan which sets out the road to Carbon Net Zero by 2050 and Heathrow published its own pathway to Net Zero earlier this week.

This is a challenge that needs to be addressed for any UK airport to expand.

Economic issues

  • Expanding Heathrow will be worth tens of billions in GDP and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK
  • With expansion Heathrow will be the largest airport in Europe with up to 130 million passengers
  • Heathrow has committed to sourcing 60% of their expansion spending outside of London and SE
  • They have signed up to the UK Steel Charter which commits them to procuring UK steel –  some 1 million tonnes
  • Backed by some of the biggest long-term investors in the world with over $1tn of funds under management, Heathrow will be able to secure further attractive private financing for the proposed expansion without public loans or guarantees
  • Expansion will mean 40 new long haul routes to new markets across the globe and double the cargo capacity.  Our European neighbours are already exploiting similar connectivity, investment and tourism opportunities.
  • Cancelling Heathrow’s expansion would deliberately stifle growth in the economies of west London and the Thames Valley, and have a negative impact on the economy and status of the UK.
  • Some 202 of the top 300 companies in the UK are clustered within 25 miles of Heathrow.  These firms rely on international long-haul flights and choose to locate themselves around one the world’s only truly globally connected hub airports.    As a nation we need to think carefully about ensuring Heathrow remains a world-class airport or risk a number of major employers taking the opportunity to simply relocate their headquarters outside the UK to Paris or Frankfurt.
  • Heathrow is the UK’s largest port by value, and without expansion, we risk losing valuable export opportunities to new markets.
  • Without expansion, by the end of a decade Heathrow will become the fourth major hub in the EU, not the first: France, Germany and Holland will be better connected to the world than the UK.

Environmental issues

  • The airport is seeking to use the opportunity of expansion to take a leading role in efforts to decarbonise the sector.
  • Heathrow has become one of the world’s first major aviation hubs to become carbon neutral in its ground operations – quadruple certified by The Carbon Trust.
  • Carbon emissions have been reduced by 93%, alongside offsetting through investment in restoring UK peatlands.
  • The airport has launched a £1 million prize for a year of free landing charges for the first electric or hybrid flight to operate from the airport, and only last week Heathrow launched its action plan – called ‘Target Net-Zero’.
  • The plan outlines how Heathrow will decarbonise the airport’s infrastructure, play a role in supporting the entire UK aviation industry to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, work with its partners on the ground and in the air to develop sustainable aviation fuels
  • Through a UN scheme “CORSIA” from 2020 UK airlines will pay billions of dollars to fund carbon reduction through high-quality, independently verified carbon offsets, whilst also being incentivised to reduce emissions ‘at source’ through the effective functioning of the carbon market.
  • Heathrow wants to go further, which is why they are calling for the UK Government to seek a more robust international commitment for aviation carbon reduction at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly in 2022, for once CORSIA ends in 2035.
  • This ambition to accelerate the transformation of aviation is intrinsically tied to the expansion project.  The additional capacity created by expansion at Heathrow will encourage airlines through competition and incentives to change their operations by innovating and investing in a new generation aircraft.
  • Government regulation may also force investment in high quality, regulated carbon offset projects by all airlines as a bridge in the transition to zero carbon aircraft – See Summer 2019 consultation:

Social issues

  • Expansion is vital to secure thousands of new apprenticeships, unprecedented new career opportunities, and the opportunity to eradicate youth unemployment in West London and the Thames Valley.
  • Along with other local stakeholders West London Business are working closely with Heathrow to improve quality of life for local residents as the airport grows, including new local transport connections, investment in green spaces, and employment and training opportunities.