After the increasing evidence of a damaging Labour rebellion on Heathrow expansion, and yesterday's "tap on the little finger" for Plane Stupid's parliament protesters, today there's news of a new challenge to the government's airport expansion plans - this time through the High Court.
When making its decision on Stansted, says SSE, the government made three assumptions that breached previous assurances and may be "wrong in law":
- That the increase in greenhouse gas emissions can be disregarded;
- that the economic impact on the UK trade deficit can be disregarded;
- and that the noise impacts on local residents and others can't amount to a reason for refusal.
Stop Stansted Expansion's appeal (which we and several other organisations are supporting) will challenge all three of these assumptions. Their chairman, Peter Sanders, explains: "when it reaches the stage where the government is prepared to disregard the climate change impacts, the noise impacts and even the interests of the UK economy in order to satisfy its obsession for airport expansion, then it is time to ask the High Court to intervene. The issues at stake here go far wider than Stansted."
As Sanders hints, this move isn't just important for Stansted; it's a direct challenge to a government that insists it can both expand airports and tackle climate change.