This morning’s Court of Appeal ruling that a third runway at Heathrow is unlawful could put Croydon’s council leader Tony Newman’s bollocks in a vice.
For not only has the ruling managed to coalesce opposition, legally and environmentally, against airport expansion, but it may yet see Gatwick push the case for their second runway.
And that is something which Newman – now claiming personal credit for his council’s declaration of a climate emergency – has always supported with conspicuous enthusiasm.
The contradictions in Newman’s positions may be obvious to most, but they remain unapparent to the Labour leader at the Town Hall.
This is possibly because Gatwick continues to be a generous sponsor of some activities in Croydon, apparently also because a second runway would generate some jobs for south London residents (though the economic case for this has never been laid out by Newman), and probably also because before Sarah Jones became MP for Croydon Central, she worked for Gatwick Airport for several years.
Yet Newman’s untenable position over airport expansion has become even more so, as his Labour Party colleagues today came out strongly in support of the Heathrow ruling.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who opposes Heathrow expansion, was present in the Court of Appeal this morning to hear the judgement. Lord Justice Lindblom said, “The Paris Agreement ought to have been taken into account by the Secretary of State. The National Planning Statement was not produced as the law requires.”
It is understood that the ruling is the first in the world to be based on the Paris Agreement, under which governments are bound to climate change commitments.
Navin Shah, Labour’s environment spokesperson at the London Assembly, said of the Heathrow plans, “In the midst of a climate emergency, it would have been nonsensical to proceed with plans to build a third runway.
“This would have grossly exacerbated air and noise pollution in the capital, setting back the significant progress that City Hall has made on tackling these issues.
“This a huge victory for Londoners, brought about the tenacious opposition of the Mayor, the London Assembly, local authorities and campaign groups.
“It is vital that the Government reminds itself again of the commitments it signed up to in the Paris climate agreement and swiftly throws its plans for Heathrow on to the scrapheap.”
At least one politician who has previously supported Heathrow expansion, the LibDem candidate standing in the London Mayoral elections, Siobhan Benita, used today’s judges’ ruling to perform a policy loop-the-loop.
“I’m delighted that this crucial decision paves the way for putting an end to this polluting project once and for all,” she said.
“In the face of a climate emergency, we can’t keep investing in airport expansion.”
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