The UK Government recognises that climate change is an ‘existential threat’, and has committed to international ‘climate leadership’ and to making a fair contribution to the Paris Agreement temperature limit of 1.5˚C and ‘well below’ 2˚C to safeguard its citizens.

Meanwhile it advances policies that are manifestly inconsistent with that commitment, including subsidies for fossil fuels and support for fracking. The proposal to expand Heathrow is perhaps the iconic battleground in the fight against climate change, not just in the UK, but across Europe and around the globe.

On the one hand there is the UK Government’s policy to expand aviation, one of the most polluting forms of transport.

On the other there is its policy on climate change.

It can have one or the other but not both.  It is “business as usual” on trial, and the world will be watching.

Parliament passed the Planning Act in 2008, which specifically requires the Government to consider its climate change obligations before approving such a major infrastructure plan. So how did Chris Grayling, the Transport Minister, deal with the inconsistency? He simply ignored it, failing even to consider the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, and failing to inform Parliament that the proposal was inconsistent with the Government’s policy on climate change. Parliament voted for Heathrow without even being made aware of the problem.

Plan B argues that in failing to consider the UK’s obligations under the Paris Agreement Grayling has acted:

  • in excess of his powers (ultra vires)
  • irrationally
  • in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998, section 3.

Plan B join a number of others, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Mayor of London, who are also challenging Heathrow expansion on a range of different grounds.

The will be a full trial beginning on 11 March 2019, in which all claims will be heard and which is due to last for 10 days.

Case documentation

A pdf of the press release can be downloaded here.

Plan B’s amended grounds of claim

Plan B’s witness statement

Plan B’s exhibit

The Government’s summary response

Directions of the Court

The Government’s detailed grounds of defence

Plan B’s reply

Live Streaming Skeleton final (rejected by the Court)

Skeleton argument for trial

Trial Timetable (which is subject to variation)

Media coverage

Heathrow expansion protestors gather outside High Court hearing (Daily Mail)

Heathrow expansion: All five legal challenges to get full hearing (The Independent)

Blow for Heathrow as Campaigners win legal fight over third runway (The Times)

A court case has shown how Labour could win the next election (The Canary)

Charity calls for court to livestream Heathrow third runway challenge (The Guardian)

Transcripts of evidence

(Plan B’s main evidence was given on Wednesday 13 March, starting at page 96 of the transcript)