'Dozens of airport, road and energy projects thrown into doubt by Heathrow court ruling'

Claims that 'dozens of airport, road and energy projects have been thrown into doubt' by the Court of Appeal Heathrow ruling because the judgment has 'wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times reports on the implications of yesterday's Court of Appeal ruling that the government’s policy on expanding the airport was unlawful because of the "legally fatal" refusal to properly consider the UN Paris agreement. As a result, it adds, "dozens of airport, road and energy projects have been thrown into doubt" as environmental groups and lawyers said the judgment had "wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions". Among the projects that the successful claimant, campaign group Friends of the Earth, said could be under threat on climate change grounds are: plans to expand Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Bournemouth airports; the new expressway between Oxford and Cambridge; the A303 Stonehenge tunnel; and the Lower Thames Crossing. It "may even raise questions over HS2", it added.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the transport secretary Grant Shapps has "signalled that the Government was planning to shift focus to expanding regional airports" following the Heathrow ruling. Shapps "said that the government would not appeal against yesterday's decision" and "strongly hinted that he would be backing new runways for regional airports". 

The Guardian reports that Manchester may get high-speed rail before Leeds, the new minister for HS2 has suggested. In his first speech in the job, Andrew Stephenson said the next step for the government was to "bring forward legislation to bring high-speed rail into Manchester as soon as practical". There was no mention of Leeds in a "northern powerhouse"-themed conference in Manchester, the newspaper says. Until now, the two northern spurs of HS2 - from Birmingham up to Manchester and Leeds - had been treated as one project, called phase 2b. The plan now "is to split those two spurs into two stages, with Manchester going first, a Department for Transport press officer confirmed". 

The Times reports that "some of Britain’s biggest property companies" have pulled out the MIPIM conference in the south of France, the "industry’s annual networking event", over fears of employees catching coronavirus. Mipim, which is"attended by thousands of investors, developers, bankers and politicians, will be held from March 10 to 13". However, some firms have already pulled out, the newspaper says, "including the property companies Savills, Knight Frank and Cushman & Wakefield". 

The Telegraph reports that "railway stations opened as part of plans to reverse the Beeching closures have been used by almost two million passengers, figures show". Five stations opened since 2017 in places such as Wales, Exeter and Warwickshire "have seen more than 1.8 million journeys according to statistics from the Office of Rail and Road". The government "said the surge in use was a vindication of its £500 million rollback of the closures wrought in the Sixties Beeching review", the article adds.

The Telegraph also reports that immigration to the UK "from outside the EU has risen to its highest level since records began in the wake of the government's decision to lift the cap on student numbers, official figures show". The number of non-EU immigrants "rose to 379,000 in the year to September 2019, overtaking the previous peak of 370,000 in 2004, according to the Office for National Statistics". Meanwhile, the articles states, the number of migrants coming to the UK to study overtook those coming to work for the first time since 2012, with Chinese students accounting "for almost a third of the non-EU immigrants".


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