Heathrow’s expansion plans blocked by court

Heathrow Airport proposed North West runway

The UK’s court of appeal has ruled in favour of London mayor Sadiq Khan, Hillingdon Council and various environmental groups, including Greenpeace, as they rule the third runway expansion of Heathrow illegal.

The expansion was ruled illegal as ministers had not assessed how this expansion will be consistent with the Paris agreement targets, that aim to limit global temperature rise well below 2c, as well as other factors such as traffic and noise and air pollution. This is the first time the Paris Agreement has ever been cited in a court case, showing it has a binding effect.

The decision may come as good news to the climate conscious but it will mean air freight growth will be hindered. In the wake of the ruling, prime minister Boris Johnson, who was famously against the expansion while London mayor,  could decide to put the expansion plans to rest or appeal the decision to the UK supreme court.


The government must now come up with a proper aviation strategy for the UK, says GMB, the union for airport workers. It has responded to today’s  ruling on the Heathrow expansion. Nadine Houghton, GMB National Officer, said:”“GMB is disappointed by today’s court ruling. Heathrow expansion is a complicated issue, but we have consistently backed it because the benefits more than outweigh any risks. Expansion would protect the existing 80,000 jobs, create a further 114,000  – as well as 10,000 apprenticeships.

“Like everyone else, GMB members are very worried about climate change, but we would have held Heathrow Airport Ltd’s feet to the fire on their target for zero carbon by the mid-2030s.

“The Government must now come up with a proper aviation strategy for the UK – and unions must be front and centre in those discussions,” she said.