Runway obstruction

The RSPB and other leading green organisations have launched a legal challenge against the government’s decision to expand Heathrow airport.

The thirteen groups backing the challenge will argue that the consultation process was flawed and the decision was irrational.

The RSPB, Greenpeace, WWF and the Campaign to Protect Rural England will claim that expanding Heathrow would massively increase carbon emissions, which is completely incompatible with the urgent need to tackle climate change.

The groups claim that if the third runway goes ahead, Heathrow will become the single largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the UK.

Lodging the documents at the High Court is the first step in a process expected to lead to a judicial review of the government’s decision on Heathrow.

If the challenge is successful, the decision would be quashed and the government would have to re-run the consultation.

If the court agrees the decision was irrational, the government may also be forced to review its entire aviation policy, which supports expanding nearly 30 airports across the country.

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s director of conservation, said: ‘The RSPB believes climate change to be the biggest threat to life on Earth.

‘We are already starting to see its impacts on wildlife here in the UK, including catastrophic declines among seabirds in parts of the North Sea.

‘Against this backdrop, the decision to build a third runway at Heathrow is perverse.

‘We are not opposed to flying, and indeed recognise that for many people international travel is a vital part of their life and work. 

‘But encouraging a massive increase in flights, just at the time when we need to reduce our emissions dramatically, shows a reckless disregard for the well-being of our planet, and our future.’