Britain’s Economy On The Brink As Climate Lawfare Threatens Infrastructure Projects 

Posted: February 28, 2020 by oldbrew in climate, government, Legal, opinion

Heathrow expects… [credit:]

This may all be a bit of an over-reaction, as a legal appeal is pending. Even if the appeal fails, it’s not clear what taking the Paris agreement into account really means, as far as the courts are concerned. Having said that, some cages must have been rattled at the prospect of various projects being undermined.

Dozens of airport, road and energy projects have been thrown into doubt after judges delivered a crushing blow to plans for a third runway at Heathrow over its impact on the environment, reports The Times (via The GWPF).

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the government’s policy on expanding the airport was unlawful because ministers had failed to take proper account of how it affected Britain’s climate commitments.

A refusal to properly consider the UN Paris agreement, which limits rises in global temperatures, when approving the third runway was “legally fatal”, the judges said.

The government said it would accept the ruling, striking a severe blow to plans for the runway.

Environmental groups and lawyers heralded the verdict as a milestone in the development of huge infrastructure projects, saying it had “wider implications for keeping climate change at the heart of all planning decisions”.

It could open the door to a series of challenges against plans for roads, the expansion of other airports, gas-fired power stations and coalmines on the grounds that they too are inconsistent with the legally binding climate change commitments.

The Heathrow decision could also have a big impact on plans for the budget next month, which is being billed in Whitehall as an infrastructure budget. The Conservatives are preparing to spend £100 billion over the next five years on building programmes.

Friends of the Earth said the ruling could lead to successful legal challenges on climate change grounds against plans to expand Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Bournemouth airports.

It warned that big road projects could be challenged on the same grounds, including plans for a route between Oxford and Cambridge, the A303 Stonehenge tunnel and the Lower Thames Crossing, a 14-mile motorway and tunnel to the east of the Dartford Crossing that is the biggest scheme of its kind in decades.

It may even raise questions over HS2, which has been criticised over the damage it will cause to ancient woodland.

  1. Popcorn at the ready. My understanding is that the Government will not appeal against this desicion but will leave it open for the Heathrow consortium to. Perhaps this is their way of saying to the business community that they have to stand up to ‘big green’ or conform with it. This is a pretty hefty consortium which would be financially capable of taking on and overturning this ruling… if they have a mind to in this time of opportunity!

  2. ivan says:

    Lord Beaverbrook, It would be good if the UK business community stood against big green – it would mean they would stand against the government and its green agenda that is turning the country into a state that is below that of third world countries.

    If the government had balls it would repeal the Climate Change Act (2008) and all the green rules, laws and agreements attached to the idea, then tell the green lobby to take a running jump at itself – it won’t because Boris is being lead by what the government needs through his girlfriend.

    I just hope that the British people wake up to what the UN and George Soros are doing to the country before it is too late to recover.

  3. oldbrew says:

    After the Heathrow verdict…

    Cracks Are Starting to Show in the World’s Fossil Fueled Infrastructure

    The ruling—which could be appealed to the UK Supreme Court, or the government could go back and redraft its version of an environmental impact statement—shows we’re approaching a precipice of something bigger: The bottom is starting to fall out for fossil-fuel-friendly infrastructure.

    There’s still a long way to go before fossil fuels are in free fall, but the warning sirens are starting to ring a little louder as courts, investors, and even companies themselves are coming to grips with the emerging world order.
    – – –
    Where’s the cement and steel for wind turbines coming from, without burning any fuels? Countries like China must know the net-zero emissions economy is a dangerous nonsense.

  4. cognog2 says:

    From what I gather this ruling was a pedantic interpretation of the law which can easily be remedied by a single sentence started perhaps by: “Taking due consideration of ————-etc. I would like to know how these judges concluded that the government had NOT taken into account etc. etc. Surely the absence of a statement that that had been done is not evidence that it had not been done. The lawyers love this sort of thing – very lucrative.

  5. pochas94 says:

    Apparently it’s easy to lose touch with reality. Until you must look for your weapons.

  6. Saighdear says:

    W8 4 it ! another Election on the way…… All because the Planet caught ( or was caught ) by a Virus not yella but green.

  7. It doesn't add up... says:

    The judgement logic is nonsense. It implies that the UK could single handedly keep temperature rises significantly below 2 degrees. It treats aspirations and ambitions as legally enforceable limits. Then again, when the judiciary decide they know the answer they seem to twist any and all logic to achieve it.

  8. Gamecock says:

    “Apparently it’s easy to lose touch with reality. Until you must look for your weapons.”

    Buenos Aires is noticing. The world will react very quickly to UK’s suicide.

    Developments are encouraging. Net Zero needs to be made immediate. Not off in the future. People won’t react to 30 years out. They will react to today.

    And if it is a real crisis, how the heck can they put it off 30 years? Makes no sense.

  9. oldbrew says:

    The UK target for electric-only new cars is 2035.

  10. phil salmon says:

    Nasty western society – we hates it! We hates it!

  11. Phoenix44 says:

    The Greens and the doomsayers are both overegging the ruling. This was a judicial review – that means it ONLY looked at whether the correct procedures had been followed in reaching the decision. Its conclusion was that the government had not followed the correct procedures because “government policy” had to be taken into account in granting an NPS, and it was stated government policy that the Paris Agreement would inform decisions. Because the DfT did not apparently take into account the UK’s commitments under Paris, the NPS was unlawful. The court explicitly DID NOT SAY that Heathrow expansion was incompatible with Paris, simply that it had to be considered as part of the NPS. Nobody involved (other than the Greens) is saying that Heathrow expansion cannot be compatible with Paris. Previous courts had concluded that “government policy” was not to be construed so widely as to include Paris as it was then not a legally binding treaty. The government now simply has to say it has considered the NPS in the light of its policies (including Paris) and considers the UK can meet its commitments under Paris and expand Heathrow. It’s interesting to note in that regard that simply expanding Heathrow does not increase flights. It only allows for flights to increase at Heathrow. Not expanding Heathrow could mean just as much growth in UK flying, just at different airports.

    The biggest challenge for Heathrow and other projects will be at the Planning Consent stage. Most do not need the equivalent of an NPS, as Heathrow does. It is at Planning that the compatibility with Net Zero and the rest will be challenged and I suspect many projects will fail there.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Putting too many trade ‘eggs’ in the Heathrow basket may not be a sound policy anyway, given it’s already a big target for protesters.

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    I wonder if this couldn’t be turned back on the protesters? Since most, if not all, are depended on an expansion in government funding why not declare any such expansion in funding (and by definition expansion in the GST) as incompatible with the Paris Agreement as it would mean more office buildings, more heating/cooling, more traffic etc.
    Standby for deafining squeals.

  14. John Murray says:

    It will be overturned on appeal. If it is not, then the entire UK construction industry will be effectively ended. That said; if another runway is built, then the M25 (already rendered a slow-way around Heathrow) will be just another carpark

  15. Gamecock says:

    “Not expanding Heathrow could mean just as much growth in UK flying, just at different airports.”

    The irony being that a long drive will be added to the plane trip. The anti-CO2 crowd will have achieved greater CO2.

  16. oldbrew says:

    At the moment a lot of UK residents have to drive a long way to get to Heathrow, due to lack of alternative flight options. But many incoming tourists want to visit London and that won’t change.

  17. oldbrew says:

    While Britain plays legal games over one airport runway…

    China And India To Build 320 New Airports In Next 10 Years
    Date: 28/02/20 Global Warming Policy Forum

    Nobody outside Europe’s green bubble really cares about the UK’s apparent decision to stop building new runways. This has nothing to do with the Paris Agreement, of course. China and India are both signatories to the accord – yet they are building 320 new airports in the next 10 years.

  18. oldbrew says:

    New roads face Heathrow-style court action threat
    By Roger Harrabin
    BBC environment analyst
    28 February 2020
    – – –
    Same tactic as Heathrow. Harrabin conflates carbon dioxide and ‘pollution’ again. Round and round we go.

  19. Gamecock says:

    We have nice factory locations available for you here in South Carolina. Good, smart workers who speak English. No unions. Reasonably priced homes.

    Think about it.

  20. oldbrew says:

    Boris’s big gamble on Heathrow backfires: Airport could sue for £500m if third runway is axed
    PUBLISHED: 22:20, 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:34, 2 March 2020

    Now the MoS can disclose that documents signed off by Heathrow and the former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in 2016 show the airport has the right to sue the Government if it pulls the plug on the project.

    Heathrow is understood to have invested £520million so far on planning the expansion – and could seek to recoup this from the taxpayer if the third runway is axed entirely.