UPDATE: Thursday - Day 3
The third and final day in the high court turned out to be the best one so far.
The government's barristers continued to try to defend the statistics that the Department for Transport had used to support the case for a third runway, and it turned out to be a bit of a minefield for them. (Perhaps because the statistics were basically pretty shoddy.)
At one point a somewhat annoyed judge asked whether the government accepted that their figures of how many passengers they could fit on the tube were wrong. (He was referring to the creative accounting that had suggested you could fit 4 people plus luggage into every tube carriage square-metre.)
The government's lawyer, squirming slightly, replied that he couldn't say either way, which didn't go down too well.
On the climate part of the argument, the judge noted that the climate bill changed the policy context in which government decisions, like the one to build a runway, were made. This is great - a key part of the argument we've been making is that the decision to build a third runway just can't be squared with a commitment to cut carbon emissions and deliver a low-carbon economy, and the judge said that the Climate Change Act 'seemed... to be a very significant part of the context of the Heathrow decision'. A good sign.
We're hoping to get the ruling by mid-March, but it could be before then, so we'll keep you posted...
UPDATE: Wednesday - Day 2
This morning, our lawyers wrapped up presenting our side of the case.
Most of the climate change arguments were covered yesterday, and today we moved onto the ‘surface access' part of the case.
This part of the case follows a theme you'll all be familiar with - how the government conjured up some slightly suspect figures in an attempt to prove that you could cram the millions of extra passengers generated by a third runway onto the tube, roads and trains. Well, that's my understanding of it anyway - the lawyers said it a lot more eloquently.
Highlights included our barristers unraveling the Department of Transport's assumptions about how many people you can (in theory) fit in a tube carriage. According to the government you can fit four people per square meter, including their luggage.
The judge didn't look convinced.
This afternoon, it was the turn of the government's lawyers to try and convince the judge. According to a text I've just received from Anna they're having a hard time.
Today we (along with local councils, other NGOs and residents threatened by Heathrow expansion) took the government to court for a Judicial Review of the planned third runway at Heathrow.
In a judicial review, two teams of lawyers argue the toss over a complicated issue of importance - in this case, whether the government had conducted the consultation over Heathrow expansion properly, and whether their plans to balance environmental impact with aviation expansion stacked up.
First up, there was a good piece on the Today programme this morning about the Judicial review.
Then, when I got to the court, the front of the building was thronged with local Heathrow residents, environmental campaigners, local councillors and Alistair McGowan holding a 'No third runway sign'. Pretty impressive, considering the driving cold which drove me inside pretty quickly. The sole campaigner who had turned up early to cheer for Simon Singh looked a bit mystified.
Unfortunately, given that I was looking for some warmth and comfort the court had been designed a) to accommodate significantly less people than turned up and b) in 1875 - the cramped public gallery was massively uncomfortable.
During the course of the day our lawyers outlined the issues in meticulous detail. We heard our lawyers running through how the understanding of climate change as an issue of importance had improved massively since the publication of the 2003 aviation white paper, how the Committee on Climate Change's advice to the government in December 2009 had undermined the government's own case for the runway, rather than strengthening it, how the public consultation process had precluded a proper appraisal of the final plans for controlling environmental damage from a third runway, and a run-through of the flawed economic case for the runway.
The Times has probably the best summary:
Nigel Pleming, QC, told the
"That decision was such that it was conspicuously unfair to make the decision without giving the claimants the opportunity to make further representations."
He said that if congestion and the environmental impact of expansion had been properly accounted for, the economic benefit of expansion would fall from £5.5 billion, as set out by Government, to just £0.9 billion.
There's more reporting of the day's events here - the wire service, and here with commentary from Susan Kramer, the Lib Dem MP, who remarks that you've got to take the government to court to even find out what their environmental policy is.
The trial continues tomorrow.