Heathrow campaigners lose court case against expansion

London (AFP) –


London Mayor Sadiq Khan, along with environmental charities and local councils, on Wednesday lost a court battle to prevent an expansion of Heathrow, Britain's busiest airport.

Opponents to the introduction of a third runway at the west London airport cite the negative impacts on noise and air pollution, habitat destruction, transport congestion, and climate change.

But the High Court dismissed the legal challenges against Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

The hearing "was only concerned with the legality, and not the merits, of the Airports National Policy Statement," judge Gary Hickinbottom, sitting with judge David Holgate, said in the ruling.

Grayling has now called for "public bodies not to waste any more taxpayers' money" in delaying the "vital" project further.

May's Conservative government argues that the £14 billion ($18.3 billion, 16.3 billion euros) plan will provide a major boost to Britain's post-Brexit economy and could create up to 114,000 local jobs by 2030.

Yet campaign groups are resolved to continue their opposition.

In a joint statement on behalf of the legal charity Plan B and Extinction Rebellion, an environmental campaign movement that has been holding protests across the capital, Plan B director Tim Crosland said the ruling was "disappointing".

"But it is increasingly difficult to see how the government's reckless plans to expand Heathrow Airport can proceed," he said.

"Following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests there is widespread recognition that we are in a state of climate and ecological emergency."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the environmental charity would continue to oppose the project as the government had "lost the argument over whether it's morally justifiable".