Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling

Wednesday 8 May: Following the Divisional Court's decision on 1 May 2019 to dismiss the legal challenge brought by Hillingdon Council and others, expert legal opinion has been sought by them in relation to whether there are any grounds to appeal this decision.

There is no automatic right of appeal and permission to appeal is needed, in the first instance, from the court which heard the legal challenge.

Therefore, an application for permission to appeal is being made to the Divisional Court today on behalf of Hillingdon Council and the other local authorities involved in the legal challenge - it will be supported by Greenpeace and the Mayor of London. 

The application for permission to appeal is based on two specific grounds which both have their origin in European Law. The first ground relates to the Habitats Directive which is designed to preserve protected species and the second concerns the relationship of the Airports National Policy Statement to the councils' Local Plans also the noise assessment and metric used by the government, both of which fall under the umbrella of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.

In considering whether to grant permission to appeal, the Divisional Court will have to determine whether there is a realistic prospect of an appeal succeeding.

If the Divisional Court refuses the application, there is a right to make a further application for permission to appeal directly to the Court of Appeal which will also have to consider whether an appeal has a realistic prospect of succeeding.  

Hillingdon Council Leader, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, said: "As I said when the legal action commenced, this would be a long battle and I remain convinced that we will ultimately succeed. Both Heathrow Airport Ltd and the Dept of Transport are aware of the weakness of their case and will try to stop our action by challenging our right to use public funds to defend our residents and our environment.

"As I promised our residents in our manifesto for the council election last year, we have set aside sufficient funding to cover the cost of this action over the coming years and we will accept no advice on the correct use of public money from the Secretary of State for Transport given his lamentable record on both HS2 and the ferry company with no ferries that actually saw £50 million written off on the same day he was criticising us on the Heathrow legal case costs."

Wandsworth Council Leader, Cllr Ravi Govindia, said: "The negative impact of Heathrow's operations has been a constant blight on the quality of life for our residents for many years. The noise and disturbance along with its damaging effect on air quality are issues we simply cannot ignore. Our residents expect us to continue to stand up for their interests and to challenge the view that Heathrow expansion can be achieved without serious environmental cost."

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Richmond Council Leader, said: "Richmond Council has battled any Heathrow expansion for years. And the case against a bigger airport is still the same today.

"We are clear. A bigger Heathrow will lead to more cars. It will lead to more air pollution. An expanded airport will bring more polluting 'filth' from the skies, onto our heads and that of our children, damaging our health.

"Last May we promised our residents that we will fight this expansion in every way possible. We will continue to stand up for all local people and challenge this decision."

Cllr Simon Dudley, Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said: "To protect our legal position we will be applying for leave to appeal but the decision to move forward with any appeal will only be formally made once our council has been able to fully analyse the judicial review outcome and following a full free vote by our members.

"Applying for leave to appeal will ensure we are able to do so if Full Council agree it is in the best interests of our residents."

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, said: "A third runway is the wrong approach for our economy, our environment and our quality of life so we will fight on."

Hillingdon is one of a coalition of councils challenging proposed Heathrow expansion. The group comprises the London boroughs of Hillingdon, Wandsworth, Richmond and Hammersmith and Fulham, Windsor and Maidenhead Council, the Mayor of London and Greenpeace.

Page last updated: 09 Feb 2022