Stopping climate change can't be a lie we tell our children

by Good Law Project

Stopping climate change can't be a lie we tell our children

by Good Law Project
Good Law Project
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We are working with the noted environmentalist Dale Vince to bring this key challenge.
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We are working with the noted environmentalist Dale Vince to bring this key challenge.
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Latest: Jan. 19, 2021

Government says it is 'carefully considering' our request...

We wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP,  requesting that he consider reviewing and suspending the 2018 Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) - a document we think …

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"The UK has set a world–leading net zero target, the first major economy to do so, but simply setting the target is not enough – we need to achieve it. Failing to act will result in natural catastrophes and changing weather patterns, as well as significant economic damage, supply chain disruption and displacement of populations."

Those are the words earlier this month of the Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. 

And we intend to hold the Government to this statement.

In March of this year we wrote to Alok Sharma asking him to commit to reviewing the Energy National Policy Statement in light of the Government's commitment to a net-zero target.  Our planning frameworks, we said, could no longer presume in favour of carbon-emitting energy infrastructure. He refused to do so, and so we commenced legal proceedings. Earlier this week he conceded and the Energy NPS will be reviewed. 

As things stand, Heathrow Airport could seek permission to expand under the lax planning regime created before the Government set its "world-leading net-zero target". We think that's unlawful. We think Government needs to revise the "Airports National Policy Statement" to take account of the net-zero commitment in section 1 of the Climate Change Act 2008. The legal point in this challenge is fundamentally identical to that on which Mr Sharma conceded in our March challenge.

We wrote yesterday to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, making that point and inviting him to agree to review and update the Airports National Policy Statement before he is asked to grant a Development Consent Order to the expansion of Heathrow Airport. If he refuses, we will issue judicial review proceedings with a request for urgent determination. 

We are, of course, aware of the recent Supreme Court decision on Heathrow but the Supreme Court was careful to confine its reasoning to the legal regime that existed in 2018 - before the net-zero target was introduced.

Boris Johnson won't need to "lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway." He'll merely need to ensure that the proposed development of Heathrow is considered under the legal regime that prevails today.

It's not too late to stop Heathrow expansion.

Details 

Good Law Project and Dale Vince have instructed leading international firm Hausfeld & Co LLP. Hausfeld will be paid nothing unless the litigation succeeds. Our Counsel team is Phillippa Kaufmann QC and Alex Goodman (the latter of whom we instructed on our successful Energy NPS challenge) who are being paid at significantly below market rates.

10% of the funds raised will be a contribution to the general running costs of Good Law Project. If there is a surplus it will go to support and enable other environmental litigation we bring.

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Update 1

Good Law Project

Jan. 19, 2021

Government says it is 'carefully considering' our request...

We wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP,  requesting that he consider reviewing and suspending the 2018 Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS) - a document we think is no longer fit-for-purpose given both the significant developments in the science on climate change since the document was drafted, and the domestic policy changes in the UK including our statutory Net Zero commitment.

In our letter to Mr Shapps, we set out why we think that he is legally obligated under the Planning Act to review the ANPS. And we sought a response from him by 18 January. Disappointingly, we did not receive a substantive response yesterday despite the Secretary of State and the Department for Transport having had a month to consider our request. But we were told that officials were closely considering our letter and that they expect to respond shortly.

In the circumstances, we thought it would be reasonable to give the Secretary of State and Department for Transport officials a further short window to respond. We have now sought a response by 1 February 2020 - failing which we intend to kickstart formal legal proceedings.

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