Plane landing at Heathrow

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Heathrow Airport has been granted permission to appeal against a block on its plans for a third runway.

In February the Court of Appeal found the government decision to allow the plans to go ahead was unlawful.

At the time the court said the government had not taken its climate commitments into account, but Heathrow said it would appeal.

The Supreme Court has now given permission for an appeal to go ahead.

Heathrow said it would go ahead with the appeal, despite the aviation sector taking a massive hit from the coronavirus crisis.

An airport spokesman said: “Responding to the impacts of Covid-19 is our priority right now. We do believe that once the benefits of air travel and connectivity have been restored in years to come, an expanded Heathrow will be required.”

The Heathrow spokesman added that the privately funded project would “see billions of pounds pumped into the UK’s economy, stimulating sectors across the country and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.”

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‘We’ll resist’

However, Friends of the Earth, which was one of the groups that brought the case against Heathrow, said investment should instead be put into green infrastructure projects.

“It is especially important now, as we plan for a future after the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic, that the UK invests in low-carbon, resilient infrastructure. A new runway at Heathrow is the opposite of what we need to be building,” said Friends of the Earth pollution campaigner Jenny Bates.

Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said: “We’ll resist the appeal brought by Heathrow Airport and the developer Aurora Holdings, in the Supreme Court.

“Climate change must be front and centre in all planning and infrastructure decisions, and it is irresponsible for them to try and avoid the Court of Appeal’s verdict against them on climate change by this appeal.

In February, the Court of Appeal found that the government had not followed UK policy when backing the controversial expansion plans.

It said that the government had a duty to take into account the Paris climate agreement, which seeks to limit global warming.

It was “legally fatal” to the government’s Heathrow expansion policy that it did not take those climate commitments into account, the judges said at the time.

On Thursday, three Supreme Court Justices – Lord Reed, Lord Hodge and Lord Sales – gave permission to appeal that judgement.

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