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Environmental pressure groups celebrate as Court of Appeal declares Heathrow third runway illegal

Duncan Hall

28th February 2020

Democracy in action or democracy strangled? People power or nimbyism?

This article outlines what happened when the Court of Appeal found in favour of a number of pressure groups (including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth) as well as the Mayor of London and several London councils, in declaring the government's third runway plans for Heathrow illegal. The argument was that the government failed to take into account the impact of the runway on climate change, as it was compelled to do under the terms of the Paris Agreement.

It raises interesting questions about parliamentary sovereignty (the third runway had been approved by parliament) and the role of both pressure groups and the judiciary. It remains to be seen whether the government will scrap the scheme or come back with new proposals (with impact assessments conducted). Some might argue that cancellation is convenient for the prime minister, who once promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers to prevent a third runway.

Duncan Hall

Duncan Hall is Subject Lead for Politics and Sociology for tutor2u. Duncan is an experienced social science and humanities teacher, writer and senior examiner. He has taught Politics and Sociology A Level for many years and has a PhD in Social History.

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