Thursday 27 February 2020 6:53 pm

Activists shouldn't be too quick to celebrate the court's Heathrow decision

When thinking about yesterday’s Court of Appeal ruling on the Heathrow expansion, it’s important to remember what it is not.

The Court of Appeal threw out objections about noise and air pollution. And they made it clear that they were not ruling on whether Heathrow expansion should happen – that is a decision for parliament. And parliament gave this project the green light with a whopping majority of 296.

Read more: Heathrow third runway plans ruled ‘unlawful’ as legal challenge upheld

The court did not decide whether or not Heathrow expansion is compatible with the UK’s climate change obligations. Instead, it said that the government didn’t follow the correct process.

This is a technical disagreement on a point of law and it is totally fixable. And that’s what the government must do – recommit to expanding the UK’s hub airport and supporting growth plans across the industry. 

Remember what’s at stake, not just for London, but the UK as a whole. New research has found that 40 per cent of the UK’s exports leave via Heathrow. Expanding Heathrow will be worth tens of billions in gross domestic product (GDP) at a time when the UK is facing tough economic choices.

Expansion will create up to 40 new long-haul routes for British exporters and new domestic connections so that customers and investors can reach every corner of the country.

Read more: Heathrow third runway: Businesses react as High Court blocks expansion

This doesn’t have to be a choice between economic growth and the environment – Heathrow has been at the forefront of getting the UK aviation sector to commit to a plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Accord.

If we are serious about levelling up the UK’s economy and becoming a global Britain that is open for business, Heathrow’s expansion cannot be put into another holding pattern.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.