Thursday, May 2, 2019

Third Runway High Court Decision Backed by Freight Forwarding Lobby  

Environmental Groups Threaten Appeal

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Shipping News Feature UK – The argument put by London Mayor Sadiq Khan plus five councils and a variety of residents, environmental groups etc. that development of the third runway at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) was equivalent to building another major airport, was summarily dismissed by the High Court in London yesterday with support coming immediately for the decision from the UK freight forwarding community.

Whilst the two judges sitting said they appreciated the reasoning and strength of views of objectors, they said the hearing that was only concerned with the legality, and not the merits, of the Airports National Policy Statement. In ruling the NPS as legal it means that MPs, who passed the plans, will not have to redraw a new NPS to be again voted through Parliament.

Environmental groups, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth say they will appeal the decision and legally the battle to increase capacity at Britain’s busiest airport is likely to continue for some considerable time. The decision came to the relief of the British International Freight Association (BIFA) which represents the UK’s forwarding community, leading Director General Robert Keen, to say:

“However, whilst some have said that the ruling is another important step towards bringing fifty years of indecision and delay on expanding Heathrow to a welcome close, the likelihood of further legal challenges to an extra runway emerging still leaves me with a certain sense of foreboding whether the spades will ever hit the ground.

“Any further legal challenges need to be handled robustly and need to be accompanied by an expedited planning procedure, which has been mentioned previously, with no reopening of high level arguments. It would be nice to think that yesterday’s ruling is a further nail in the coffin of procrastination over the expansion of UK aviation capacity. If that is the case, it is long overdue good news for our 1,500 member companies who have been dismayed over the ongoing delay on such a huge issue.”

Robert Keen’s wishes however are likely to go unfulfilled however given the strength of feeling over the issue, especially at a time when Britain is looking to lead the way in the climate change agenda, with aviation seen as a major factor by many. We have written on the speculation over the third runway for over ten years now and a hasty conclusion to the situation seems unlikely.

The situation for UK trade is simply the need to expand air cargo (and passenger) capacity to challenge the likes of Schiphol and other major competitors in the ever growing international field. Years of research have concluded that expanding Heathrow is the best way to do this, despite glaringly obvious drawbacks. As was ever the case, jobs and prosperity come up against environmental, social health and quality of life issues.

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