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Heathrow Airport Limited Successful in Supreme Court

Michael Humphries QC

Judgment has been handed in down this morning in the case of R (on the application of Friends of the Earth Ltd and others) (Respondents) v Heathrow Airport Ltd (Appellant) [2020] UKSC 52

On 26 June 2018, the Secretary of State for Transport designated the Airports National Policy Statement ("ANPS") under section 5(1) of the Planning Act 2008. The NPS sets the national policy framework for the development of a third runway at Heathrow Airport to deliver additional hub airport capacity in the South East of England.

On 12 December 2015 the UK government adopted the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which enshrines an aspiration to achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions level during the latter half of the 21st century.

The UK ratified the Paris Agreement on 17 November 2016. The respondents (and others) challenged the ANPS on the basis of its failure to take account of the Paris Agreement. The High Court dismissed their application for judicial review, but the Court of Appeal allowed their appeal and held that the ANPS was unlawful. The appellant, Heathrow Airport Limited appealed to the Supreme Court.

The panel of five justices which heard the claim at a two-day hearing in October have allowed the appeal on all four grounds that were addressed by the court.

Michael Humphries QC appeared for Heathrow Airport Limited instructed by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.

The judgment can be found here.