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Feb 27, 2020

Heathrow’s 3rd Runway is dead; the Extended Northern Runway is now the only viable option for Heathrow expansion

Press release from Heathrow Hub, Extended Runway scheme

Heathrow’s 3rd Runway is dead; the Extended Northern Runway is now the only viable option for Heathrow expansion

• Court of Appeal declares the Airports National Policy Statement unlawful; Heathrow’s 3rd Runway is effectively dead
• “This is our ‘we told you so’ moment,” says Jock Lowe of Heathrow Hub
• The only viable solution for Heathrow expansion left on the table is our independent, cheaper, greener, simpler Extended Northern Runway proposal
• Heathrow Hub to seek permission to appeal its element of the judgement to the Supreme Court to highlight the flawed process run by the Department for Transport and to ensure it is not resuscitated in its current form, and that the review demanded by the Court is properly conducted

27th February 2020 – Following the judgement handed down today by the Court of Appeal, quashing the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS); and the decision by the Government not to appeal to the Supreme Court, Heathrow Airport Ltd’s 3rd Runway plan is effectively dead. The court has ruled that the Airports National Policy Statement is unlawful and has no legal effect, pending a review by the Government under Section 6 of the Planning Act 2008.

We are confident that any Review will force the Government – namely the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps - and Heathrow Airport Ltd to face to a clear choice. They can either abandon Heathrow expansion altogether, even though the airport is full, or accept that the only solution is Heathrow Hub’s simpler Extended Northern Runway proposal.

Jock Lowe of Heathrow Hub said: “This is our ‘we told you so’ moment. There was always a huge risk that the unnecessarily complicated and expensive 3rd Runway would fail on environmental grounds and that Boris Johnson would stop it, and so it has proved.

“There is only one realistic solution to Heathrow expansion – our cheaper, greener, simpler, quicker and quieter proposal to make the most of the existing assets by extending the northern runway.”

The Extended Northern Runway was deemed viable by the Airports Commission. That, together with the fact its Phase 1 is a much cheaper and incremental move, makes it superior to any other proposal. It also makes it easier for the UK to meet its net zero carbon target by 2050.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the appellants, Friends of the Earth and Plan B, have won their appeal claiming that the decision by the Secretary of State for Transport to designate the Airports National Policy Statement failed to take account of the Paris Agreement to reduce carbon emissions. Heathrow Hub did not win its competition-related element of the case but is seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Heathrow Hub continues to maintain that the Department for Transport ran a flawed process when selecting the 3rd Runway as a solution for airport expansion, and that it did not properly assess the Extended Northern Runway proposal, even though it actively solicited new ideas. Heathrow Hub believes that the Secretary of State was wrong to ask us to obtain a guarantee from Heathrow Airport Ltd that it would implement the Extended Northern Runway, a guarantee it refused to give.

Heathrow is a vital national asset – the UK’s biggest cargo port by value (some 40% of imports and exports by value, including critical areas such as fresh food, pharmaceuticals and tech) and still Europe’s best-connected airport. In a post-Brexit world, that connectivity is more vital than ever. However, development to secure its future against growing competition can’t be at any cost, and it must meet environmental limits.

Jock Lowe added: “Any review must surely find that our proposal, not the 3rd Runway, ticks all the boxes. It provides additional capacity, maintaining Heathrow as an international hub airport on which Britain is dependent for its international air freight, 60% of which goes through Heathrow. Without Heathrow expansion, the Government’s claims about post-Brexit global trade are empty rhetoric.

“A review will expose that the expensive and complicated 3rd Runway is never going to be compatible with the UK’s climate change obligations. By contrast, the Extended Northern Runway is a much cheaper and greener scheme. Phase 1, costing only £4.7 billion, would provide capacity for an additional 70,000 flights (compared to 260,000 for the 3rd Runway).

“Critically, it is much cheaper than the £38 billion 3rd Runway. No new capacity need be released at all unless the airport meets strict emission and noise limits. Our scheme enables the airport to be improved, making it greener and more efficient by reducing taxiing distances and creating more redundancy in the system, even if no new capacity is released. Its lower cost also leaves headroom for new rail access schemes to be funded, further reducing Heathrow’s environmental impacts.

“It is clear that the Department for Transport ran a flawed process. Our rationale for seeking permission to appeal is to ensure that, in the Section 6 Review, it does the work properly instead of just backing Heathrow Airport Ltd. In addition, as Heathrow Airport Ltd and Arora Group are themselves appealing, hoping to keep the unlawful Airports National Policy Statement alive, we want to ensure a 3rd Runway isn’t somehow resuscitated by them.

“The Extended Northern Runway has much less impact on land, property and infrastructure, and destroys far fewer houses. It brings no new communities into the noise footprint. Even now, it can be built before the 3rd Runway. It has an independently verified Safety Case and has been deemed viable by the Airports Commission.

“In short, an Extended Runway is the only viable solution for expansion at Heathrow and we welcome the opportunity to reiterate these points in a Review.”

Heathrow Hub’s legal advisers are DAC Beachcroft LLP, Martin Kingston QC and Satnam Choongh of No 5 Chambers and Robert O’Donoghue QC and Emma Mockford of Brick Court Chambers.


Boscobel & Partners
George Trefgarne
Charlotte Walsh 0203 642 1310

Heathrow Hub
Jock Lowe 07831 599 925

Notes to editors
Heathrow Hub is an independent proposal for additional capacity at Heathrow, by extending the existing northern runway westwards away from London, negating the need to build a 3rd Runway. Planes would land at one end and take off at the other. The scheme is cheaper, greener, simpler, quicker, quieter and safe. It also destroys fewer houses and was deemed viable by the Airports Commission. For more information and images, please visit:

Heathrow Hub’s proposal to extend the Northern Runway has been independently costed at £4.7 billion for its first phase.