A weighty Supreme Court ruled in May 2015 (R v. Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) that the Government must produce a new action plan by the end of this year for bringing air pollution within legal limits. Rory Stewart MP has been appointed to Defra to oversee air quality issues.
This judgment will present a challenge to any plans to build a new Heathrow runway. The area around the airport is in breach of legal limits for nitrous dioxide pollution today, and has been for many years. Modelling released by the Government’s environment department revealed that the area around Heathrow is forecast to continue breaching legal limits up to 2030, even with the existing two runways.
A recommendation on a third Heathrow runway, with caveats, was made in July 2015 by the Airports Commission.
This judgment makes it more likely that a decision to allow another Heathrow runway could be legally challenged. The court ruling also suggests that the cost-benefit analysis for adding a runway will need to be revised, as the Government has previously claimed that complying with air quality law would be too expensive.
A third runway at Heathrow could significantly affect Virginia Water with the noise and air quality impact of more flights in and out of the airport and more road traffic travelling to and from the airport.
For further information, go to https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2012-0179.html
We are monitoring this issue closely on behalf of residents and will keep you informed.