Heathrow third runway application delayed following court ruling

Submission of the planning application for Heathrow's third runway has been delayed and a forthcoming consultation shelved following last week's landmark Court of Appeal ruling against the airport's expansion, Planning can reveal.

Heathrow Airport. Pic: Heathrow Airport

Last week, the court declared that the government's Airports National Policy Statement (NPS) favouring a third runway at Heathrow was unlawful because the UK's obligations to tackle climate change under the Paris Agreement were not taken into account.

Lord Justice Lindblom ruled that the former transport secretary Chris Grayling's failure to take into account the Paris Agreement was "legally fatal" to the Airports NPS he approved in June 2018.

The ruling means that the current secretary of state, Grant Shapps, must now review the NPS, which confirmed a third Heathrow runway as the government's preferred option. Until that is done, the NPS will have no legal effect.

The challenges were mounted by environmental pressure groups, Friends of the Earth and Plan B.

Heathrow has said it has launched an appeal against the judgment to the Supreme Court and is "confident that we will be successful".

But some legal experts said the ruling "drives a bulldozer through Heathrow’s ambitions to expand".

Now, Heathrow has revealed that a consultation scheduled to take place next month on its expansion plans has been ditched and the application submission date delayed.

The airport is preparing a development consent order (DCO) application for the third runway, which would be considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

The consultation was due to run from April to June, with the responses feeding into the DCO application, which was scheduled to be submitted to PINS at the end of this year.

However, a Heathrow spokeswoman told Planning that the consultation, for which no specific dates had yet been confirmed, would now not take place following the Appeal Court ruling. 

She said: "It's been cancelled until further notice. We have to work out the next steps based on our appeal and what the government does next."

She also said submission of the application will now be delayed but no revised timescale could be confirmed at this stage. However, she added that Heathrow was still committed to the expansion plans.

A previous consultation on the expansion plans ran from 18 June until 13 September 2019.

According to the PINS major infrastructure projects website, the Heathrow Airport expansion plans would propose a new runway to the north-west of the existing airport "to enable at least 740,000 air traffic movements per annum". A supporting airfield, terminal and transport infrastructure plus works to the M25 are also included.

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