The expansion of Heathrow Airport as a major European air traffic connector has suffered a setback following the judgment of the Court of Appeal of London dclarifying that his support for the Government was illegal, for not taking into account the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aim to increase the temperature of the planet does not exceed 1.5 ° C since the beginning of the industrial era.
The Court ruling does not state that the construction of a third track, which would allow the airport to multiply the number of annual ‘air movements’ from about 475,000 to 740,000, contravene the Paris agreement, but the British Planning Law forced the Government to take it into account when it issued its opinion favorable to the expansion, but it did not.
Heathrow is owned by a consortium in which Ferrovial is the largest shareholder, with a quarter of the share capital. He acquired the airport in 2006 as part of a conglomerate, from which he subsequently sold the rest of the assets. The airport welcomes more than 80 million passengers in its five terminals each year, on flights of 84 airlines, with 203 destinations in 84 countries. Its revenues in 2019 exceeded 3,600 million euros.
The project for the construction of a third runway to allow the airport to accommodate 140 million passengers in 2050 has the persistent opposition of the town halls in the affected region and also that of Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London. The current mayor, Sadiq Khan has celebrated the sentence. Municipalities and environmental associations were part of the group of complainants.
Neighbors and Parliament
The neighborhood complaint is noise, air pollution and the great disorder that will involve the construction of the new track and of the additional infrastructures. The expansion has been supported by successive governments and the 2018 declaration was supported by the majority of Parliament. In favor of expansion are also business associations and large unions.
The ruling obliges the Government to evaluate the impact that the expansion would have on its commitments to reducing emissions. Theresa May established the official zero-balance target of net CO2 emissions in 2050, which matches the agreed objectives in Paris. Johnson, considered more skeptical about the climate catastrophe, will host the COP26 summit in November.
The Climate Change Committee, which is by law the Minister of Government, said in September that the official projections of air traffic increase, close to 50% in 2050, should be halved to achieve a net zero of emissions in air transport. If the Executive accepted that policy, growth would have to be limited to Heathrow, at the expense of airports in the rest of the country.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is deputy for the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, just north of the airport. His opposition to the expansion has been constant. When he was elected deputy he said he would lie down with his neighbors to prevent the progress of the excavators. On the BBC, he called the project “something that could be done in China in the 1950s.” He is now responsible for guiding British politics in the long saga of Heathrow’s expansion.