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Heathrow updates

16 December 2020: Supreme Court rules in favour of Heathrow Expansion

The Supreme Court has today overturned the Court of Appeal's February decision and decided that the Government did not act unlawfully in failing to take into account the Paris Agreement in designating the Airports National Policy Statement back in June 2018. This Statement is the policy framework which governs the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

The appeal to the Supreme Court was pursued by Heathrow Airport Limited in spite of the Government deciding to take no part in the case. Plan B and Friends of the Earth defended the appeal. Hillingdon Council was not allowed to play any part in the appeal despite having asked the Supreme Court for permission to do so. It was therefore unable to influence the outcome of the appeal, which makes the Court's decision all the more disappointing.

This is the end of the appeals process and it means that now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Airports National Policy Statement is lawful, Heathrow Airport Limited can apply for a Development Consent Order, which is tantamount to planning permission, to build a third runway at Heathrow.

27 February 2020: Hillingdon Council wins its fight against Heathrow expansion

A coalition comprised of local authorities, including Hillingdon Council, together with Greenpeace, the Mayor of London, Plan B and Friends of the Earth were today successful in defeating Heathrow expansion in the Court of Appeal.

4 November 2019: Councils tell government to review Heathrow expansion following climate change developments

Local authorities opposed to Heathrow expansion say that changes in government policy on climate change mean the case for a third runway should be reviewed urgently.

17 October 2019: Councils back in court to challenge Heathrow expansion

 Local authorities committed to protecting their residents from the damaging effects of Heathrow expansion will go to the Court of Appeal today to outline vital flaws in the government's decision to give the go ahead to a third runway at the West London airport.

3 October 2019: Hillingdon response to Heathrow expansion consultation

Heathrow Airport Limited disclosed for the first time, a picture of the true harm of expanding Heathrow. However, it is noted that significant amounts of information are available, but appears to be withheld, which suggests that the potential harm caused by Heathrow expansion will be even worse than feared.

Read our full consultation response (PDF) [2MB]

8 May 2019: Councils seek permission to appeal Heathrow ruling

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.

1 May 2019: Councils disappointed by court decision on Heathrow

Councils are disappointed in the High Court's failure to quash the government's Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS), regarding Heathrow expansion. Councils argue this could bring long-term damage to the health of millions of Londoners. 

4 March 2019: Five facts Heathrow doesn't want you to know about noise misery

Councils in boroughs facing blanket noise misery from an expanded Heathrow, are calling on the airport to spell out the real price communities will have to pay to satisfy its demand for growth.

31 January 2019: Land referencing letters from Heathrow Airport Ltd

The council understands that a number of residents in Heathrow Villages have recently received letters from Heathrow Airport Limited [HAL], requesting them to complete Land Interest Questionnaires in relation to their properties for Land Referencing purposes.

Read full fact file - 31 Jan 2019 (PDF) [241KB]

30 January 2019: New Heathrow plans show no escape from aircraft noise for Hillingdon

Hillingdon Council is urging residents to participate in the latest consultation by Heathrow Airport Ltd to feed back on their proposals to increase flights to more than half a million a year, as well as expand the airport by creating a third runway that will add another 260,000 flights a year if approved.

6 August 2018: Judicial review launched against Heathrow expansion

Lawyers acting for a consortium of local authorities and others have today issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Transport, on the basis that he has unlawfully designated the Airports National Policy Statement [NPS] under the Planning Act 2008.

Read full fact file - 6 Aug 2018 (PDF) [248KB]

22 June 2018: Third runway could mean 38 arrivals at Heathrow before 5am

Londoners and people living to the west of the airport could be forced to suffer noise from up to 38 arrivals at Heathrow before 5am if a third runway goes ahead, according to previously unpublished Department for Transport figures.

Read full fact file - 22 June 2018 (PDF) [258KB]

21 June 2018: Councils welcome Mayor's decision to join them in opposing Heathrow

The cross-party campaign fighting airport expansion at Heathrow has welcomes an announcement by the Mayor of London that he will join a legal challenge to the Government plans if MPs "vote Heathrow" in the House of Commons on Monday night.

Read full fact file - 21 June 2018 (PDF) [90KB]

5 June 2018: MPs urged to put public health first and reject 'unbuildable' Heathrow plan

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is pressing ahead with support for a third Heathrow runway without providing full details of the real impact of increased noise or of worsening air quality on people's lives say council leaders.

Read full fact file - 5 June 2018 (PDF) [261KB]

23 March 2018: Tough new Heathrow conditions make runway unbuildable

Tough new conditions on noise, air pollution and road traffic will, if properly applied, make it impossible to build a third Heathrow runway, say local councils opposed to expansion.

Read full fact file - 23 March 2018 (PDF) [259KB]

15 March 2018: MPs urged to put health before wealth as latest air quality evidence proves expansion would be a disaster

Local authority leaders opposed to Heathrow expansion say that it would be reckless for ministers to go ahead with plans for a third runway following publication of a new parliamentary report calling for a step change in government policy on air quality.

Read full fact file - 15 March 2018 (PDF) [92KB]

12 March 2018: Minister challenged to spell out Heathrow noise impacts

Council leaders have called on the Transport Secretary to say how many years of extra noise he expects local communities to suffer if a third Heathrow runway is built.

Read full fact file - 12 Mar 2018 (PDF) [257KB]

19 December 2017: Four Borough response to NPS re-consultation

The councils have submitted their detailed response to the consultation on the Government's revised draft National Policy Statement (19 December). The final NPS will provide the planning policy framework for an application for a new north-west runway at Heathrow.

The councils' response to the NPS consultation (PDF) [421KB] has been complied by Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead council. In their detailed response to the revised consultation the councils say that the evidence demonstrates that an expanded airport cannot be delivered without unacceptable air pollution and noise.

The councils conclude that the revised National Policy Statement (NPS) fails to show how an expanded airport could meet air quality limits in an area where pollution levels are deteriorating. This makes a third Heathrow runway unbuildable while expansion at Gatwick could go ahead without this risk. 

In addition the councils have challenged Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to withdraw his claim, made in October 2016, that an expanded Heathrow will be quieter in 2030 than today. 

Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "The councils find it deplorable that the communities which will be affected by noise from a third runway just have no way of knowing who they are. They will only find out after the decision to approve the runway has been set in stone."

Read full fact file - 19 Dec 2017 (PDF) [257KB]

Third Heathrow runway 'unbuildable'

Councils opposed to expansion at Heathrow have told the Transport Select Committee that the most recent evidence published by the government continues to demonstrate that a third runway could not be built at the airport without causing unacceptable air and noise pollution.

24 November 2017: Our response to the joint inquiry on air quality

MPs from the environmental audit committee, environment, food and rural affairs committee, health committee and transport committee have combined forces to launch an unprecedented joint inquiry on air quality to scrutinise cross-government plans to tackle urban pollution hotspots.

Following the launch of the Parliamentary Committee Inquiry on Air Quality, we have joined together with Wandsworth Council, Richmond Council and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to voice our concerns on how government aviation policy is failing on air quality and health improvements.

Our response to the inquiry highlights the unhealthy levels of pollution from the current two runway airport at Heathrow, and evidences how a third runway will only make this worse. Based on advice from experts, all four councils believe that plans for a third runway at Heathrow are incompatible with meeting standards for lawful and healthy air quality.

Read  our full response (PDF) [118KB].

Summary of our joint response

  • current operations at Heathrow Airport contribute to air pollution which exceeds lawful limits
  • on the basis of the government's over optimistic assumptions in the 2017 Air Quality Plan, air quality in London will continue to exceed legal limits and contribute thousands of premature deaths up to 2030 and beyond if Heathrow is expanded
  • health effects will be more serious the earlier an expanded Heathrow Airport is operational
  • if the effects of air pollution caused by the construction of a third runway are taken into account, which they are not, then the effect on health and mortality of expanding Heathrow is even worse.

15 November 2017: Stand up against Heathrow - have your say

Residents have just five weeks left to let the government know that expanding Heathrow should be off the table for good, in the latest consultation on the future of the airport.

Read full fact file - 15 Nov 2017 (PDF) [258KB]

27 October 2017: New evidence on Gatwick cannot be ignored says councils

Councils opposed to Heathrow expansion have welcomed new evidence which confirms that an extra runway at Gatwick provides greater economic benefits and less damage to health and the environment.

Read full fact file - 27 Oct 2017 (PDF) [91KB]

31 March 2017: Government needs to come clean on the real impact of Heathrow expansion

The Leaders of four London and Thames Valley councils have today (March 31) accused the government of failing to come clean on the real impact of Heathrow expansion.

Read full fact file - 31 Mar 2017 (PDF) [259KB]

23 February 2017: Councils urge the government to quit plans to expand Heathrow following parliamentary report

Four councils are urging the government to give-up their plans to expand Heathrow, following a parliamentary report which points out that the government can't demonstrate the airport can achieve legal environmental limits. 

Read full fact file - 23 Feb 2017 (PDF) [258KB]

30 January 2017: Government puts off the inevitable as Heathrow legal challenge delayed

The Government has delayed facing a legal challenge against its decision to back Heathrow expansion.

Read full fact file - 30 Jan 2017 (PDF) [258KB]

8 December 2016: Government will be challenged in the courts over Heathrow decision

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, together with Greenpeace and a resident of Hillingdon, have today served legal papers on the government for unlawfully supporting the expansion of Heathrow.

Read full fact file - 8 Dec 2016 (PDF) [256KB]

17 November 2016: Legal Challenge on Heathrow Expansion

Solicitors Harrison Grant acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils, together with Greenpeace and a Hillingdon resident have today sent a letter, under the Judicial Review Pre-Action Protocol, to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Read full fact file - 17 Nov 2016 (PDF) [257KB]

17 October 2016: Greenpeace joins councils to prepare Heathrow expansion legal challenge

Greenpeace UK has joined forces with Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils to prepare grounds for a joint legal challenge against Heathrow expansion.

Read full fact file - 17 Oct 2016 (PDF) [256KB]

30 September 2016: Heathrow makes obvious attempt to bribe residents, say four councils

The Leaders of four councils have today spoken out against Heathrow and the pledge that they would "ban" night flights and reduce congestion, should the airport be expanded.

Read full fact file - 30 Sep 2016 (PDF) [257KB]

16 August 2016: London uniting behind Gatwick as 11 councils urge Prime Minister to back expansion

A cross-party group of eleven London councils has urged the Prime Minister to support a new runway at Gatwick Airport and abandon proposals to expand Heathrow.

Read full fact file - 16 Aug 2016 (PDF) [93KB]

25 July 2016: Legal action on Heathrow will happen warn council leaders

The Leaders of three London councils have written to the new Secretary of State for Transport to threatening legal action if the new cabinet gives Heathrow expansion the green light.

Read full fact file - 25 July 2016 (PDF) [258KB]

3 March 2016: Councils prepare for legal challenge if Heathrow expansion approved

Solicitors acting on behalf of Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have warned the prime minister that he can expect court action unless a third Heathrow runway is ruled out.

Read full fact file - 3 March 2016 (PDF) [261KB]

10 December 2015: Government delays Heathrow decision

In a statement today the Government confirmed that it won't respond to the airports commission's recommendation to expand Heathrow until the middle of next year as the environmental impacts have not been properly considered.

Read full fact file - 10 Dec 2015 (PDF) [257KB]

14 October 2015: Report finds fault with the Airports Commission's recommendations on Heathrow third runway

Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead councils have called on MPs to oppose the recommendation from the Airports Commission for a new third runway at Heathrow.

Read full fact file - 14 Oct 2015 (PDF) [258KB]

Heathrow expansion protest

On Saturday 10 October, a protest took place in Parliament Square, London against the proposed Heathrow expansion.

06 October 2015: Flightpath consultation must come before runway decision

The Prime Minister has been warned that signaling Government support for a third Heathrow runway would be unlawful unless the new flightpaths needed to operate the landing strip are first subject to public consultation.

Read full fact file - 6 Oct 2015 (PDF) [90KB]

28 July 2015: Leader signs letter to Prime Minister on Heathrow air quality

The Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, has signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to consider ruling out expansion at Heathrow due to environmental and health impacts. He joins more than 30 west London politicians and anti-airport expansion group leaders.

Read full fact file - 28 July 2015 (PDF) [263KB]

1 July 2015: Airports Commission recommends Heathrow as site of a new runway

The Leader of Hillingdon Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, responds to Airports Commission recommendation on 1 July.

Read full fact file - 1 July 2015 (PDF) [246KB]

Hillingdon's response to Airport Commission's consultation

On Thursday 22 January the council's Cabinet approved the response, which included a specially commissioned report on the impact of Heathrow expansion on the health and quality of life of people living nearby. It will now be sent to the Airports Commission.

The Airports Commission is currently considering three airport expansion options, one at Gatwick Airport and two at Heathrow.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said:

"Despite spending considerable time and resources on publicity demonstrating the benefits of building a third runway, Heathrow Airport's proposals are full of hollow promises and gaping holes, lacking any realistic assessment of the impact Heathrow expansion would have on our community.

"It beggars belief that increased noise levels, heightened flood risk, public transport pressures, reduction of air quality, not to mention the trauma of uprooting families who have lived locally for decades, are being glossed over by Heathrow. We are also concerned that the so-called economic benefits of expanding this airport do not stand up to closer scrutiny and ultimately would not benefit Hillingdon residents.

"The recent activities of Heathrow and its PR machine have demonstrated that neither they nor their incredibly dubious survey results can be believed or taken seriously. Our detailed response to the Airport Commission's consultation lays bare these vitally important concerns, which demand to be taken seriously."

The consultation period ends on 3 February 2015. After this, the Airports Commission will look at all responses and publish its final recommendations in summer 2015.

Leader condemns proposals for a third runway

Leader of the Council, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, addressed a packed audience of campaigners, politicians and members of the public at the Airport Commission's consultation conference in December.

The so-called Davies Commission is due to advise the Government on their preferred option for airport expansion in the south east in the summer.

Putting its residents first, Hillingdon Council is continuing to oppose any plans for expansion at Heathrow Airport because it will severely damage our environment and the wellbeing of local people.

All local council leaders speaking at the Commission, with the exception of Spelthorne, were opposed to the current Heathrow proposals.

Council leaders also condemned the Heathrow Ltd public relations exercise (Back Heathrow), who despite spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on spurious surveys in a densely populated area, could claim only 50,000 people supposedly supporting Heathrow expansion, a fraction of those opposing expansion.

Cllr Puddifoot also condemned Heathrow Airport's new north-west runway option over Harmondsworth and Heathrow Hub's proposal for the extension of the northern runway to the west - two of the three options being considered by the Davies Commission.

Citing very real concerns about worsening air quality, loss of communities and the impact of increased traffic on local roads, he said: "These issues have not yet been properly addressed in reports on the proposals."

Turning to the impact on health, Cllr Puddifoot added: "I have asked all along for a clear focus on health.  The impact of expansion on health should have been properly identified and that assessment is vital as part of the decision-making process."

The council will be submitting a full response to the consultation, which will be published on our website following Cabinet approval on 22 January.

Commission's consultation closes on 3 February.

Airports Commission publish airport expansion options for consultation

At a packed Airports Commission's consultation conference on 3 December, the Leader of Hillingdon Council addressed the Commission, the promoters of the two schemes for expansion of Heathrow Airport i.e. Heathrow Airport's CEO John Holland Kaye and Captain Jock Lowe of Heathrow Hub Ltd, and interested parties and members of the public.

John Holland-Kaye said he was sorry for the airport's past commitment, made almost 20 years ago, to permanently rule out building a third runway.  He apologised for broken promises that he said have 'hung over the airport's relationship with local communities'.  He went on to say: "In hindsight, I don't believe we did enough to listen to the concerns of local communities about that proposal. .. We should have done more to reduce noise from aircraft, and ensure those people who stood to lose their homes or suffer more aircraft noise were treated fairly. We should have done more to help local people access the jobs that would come from expansion.... If there was a sense economic benefits should trump environmental costs, or national benefits should hold sway over local disruption, then I am sorry. We got it wrong."

Cllr Ray Puddifoot said that this apology was not good enough.  If more could have been done, these measures should have been put in place already to cope with the existing harmful impacts of the airport.  In addressing the new north west runway option put forward by Heathrow Airport Ltd, and the extended northern runway option put forward by Jock Lowe, Ray Puddifoot expressed concerns about worsening air quality, health impacts arising from poor air quality and noise, loss of communities and traffic impacts on local roads.

He raised concerns over the lack of proper assessment of the impacts on people arising from the two options for expansion at Heathrow.  Despite volumes of reports produced for the consultation, it is missing a detailed air quality assessment, an assessment of the potential congestion on the local roads and an assessment of the impact of Heathrow's ambition to double the freight capacity of the airport. All these aspects have the potential to impact on local communities and yet they have still not been completed.

Ray Puddifoot also took the opportunity to challenge the level of compensation being offered, stating that this was not enough for residents to buy a comparable home locally.  There was just no room in the borough to rehouse the communities that would be lost through airport expansion and certainly no room to cope with all the new housing growth that would expected from 80,000 new people wanting jobs, fuelled by a new runway. He added that the Council was already under considerable pressure to cope with the existing demands for new housing to meet the targets already set by the Mayor.  The Council has also had to put in place a massive new schools building programme to cope with the pressures for school places, which had reluctantly required some development on green belt land and there were similar pressures on other facilities and infrastructure.

In terms of health Ray Puddifoot said "I have asked all along for a clear focus on health."  The impact of the expansion proposals on health should have been properly identified and that assessment is vital as part of the decision making process to select the best option.

The Airports Commission consultation closes on 3 February.  The council will be submitting a full consultation response, which will be published on the council's website following Cabinet approval on 22 January.

Heathrow consultation documents

Davies Commission interim report 

Information following the publication of the Davies Commission interim report published 17 December 2013.

Read about the interim report

The Airports Commission interim report has recommended various options to extend airport capacity in the south east and they include adding a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow and a new runway at Gatwick. The commission will also consider a new airport in the Isle of Grain in north Kent.

Following the publication of the interim report, Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "When David Cameron said "The third runway at Heathrow is not going ahead no ifs or buts" he was not lying any more than Nick Clegg was when he said "My position is very clear - we are not going to give the go ahead to a third runway".

"This country needs a new hub airport - "no ifs or buts" - and we are wasting years talking about options that are not realistic, or credible.

"The Prime Minister will not change his principle or his considered opinion on the basis of an academic report - he would lose all credibility and he would not be trusted by the electorate again. He should show clear leadership now and ditch the Davies Commission otherwise he will be seen to be supporting a third runway at Heathrow and just kicking the issue past the next General Election."

Long term options

Hillingdon will be severely impacted by the expansion of Heathrow in terms of the physical loss of communities, as well as the devastating impacts for those communities that will remain close to the expanded airport. We are therefore extremely disappointed and concerned that the Davies Commission has decided not to rule out options for expansion at Heathrow airport and in fact has chosen two options which impact directly on our communities. The report does not rule out a fourth runway, should a third go ahead. 

The impacts

New runway in the north west of Heathrow airport option

One option given in the report is a new runway in the north west of Heathrow airport. This proposal has been put forward by Heathrow Airport Ltd. This would increase the number of aircraft movements from the current maximum of 480,000 per annum to 740,000 per annum, an increase in 260,000 extra flights a year. The increase in passenger capacity is expected to rise from 80 million now to 120 million. It would involve demolition of 1,500 homes including the loss of Harmondsworth and Longford and 30 listed buildings including the Great Tithe Barn and St Mary's Church. The existing green belt which acts as a buffer between the airport and West Drayton would be lost, thus bringing the airport directly alongside West Drayton. The village of Sipson will be left stranded in between the end of the new runway and the M4 spur road. There is no mention of the other types of community facilities which will be lost.

It has also been demonstrated by Heathrow that this option can be turned into a four runway hub so we know it won't end with three runways.

Northern extended runway option

This option has been put forward by Heathrow Hub. It is for an extension to the current northern runway to the west to create a 6,000m long northern runway. This would increase the number of aircraft movements from the current maximum of 480,000 per annum to 670,000 per annum. The increase in passenger capacity is expected to rise from 80 million now to 110 million. It would involve demolition of 720 properties and eight listed buildings in Poyle, Slough. The safety case for this option has yet to be made and the addition of a transport hub to the north of the airport requires further investigation.

The proposers of both these options appear to have convinced the Commission that air quality limits will be met, noise impacts will reduce and surface access will be solved. All these claims have been made before, they have been found to be incorrect and we have not been presented with any evidence that this will not be so again.

Mitigating the environmental impacts

We task the Commission to demonstrate that the recommendations they intend to make are based upon something that is actually deliverable in terms of environmental impacts. The Commission must demonstrate that air quality levels set for health will be met and mechanisms put in place to make sure they continue to be met; the noise impacts must be correctly quantified and demonstrably reduced; and the surface access solutions must be identified, costed and implemented prior to any expansion. For those whose homes and communities are lost there must be adequate compensation to allow them to build their lives elsewhere with no financial loss to themselves.

This will prove a very costly option and the Commission needs to be able to show this properly costed before it makes any final decision and condemns a third of the borough of Hillingdon to concrete and the surrounding communities to the west  and millions of Londoners to the east to a life of noise misery, congested roads and pollution and the ensuing impacts on their health and quality of life.

Page last updated: 21 Apr 2023