In 2009, the UK Government announced that it supported the expansion of Heathrow by building a third runway and passenger terminal. The proposal was supported at the time as they saw it as a crucial way of out-competing other major European airports. As part of its planning proposal, Heathrow claims that it is currently operating at 98% capacity, and that the expansion would help bring more foreign investment, jobs and tourism into the country.

However, since the application was approved, opposition from organisations such as Greenpeace and the WWF had been lodged to the Court of Appeals on the grounds of “severe impact” to the environment, as they saw the plans as extremely damaging, whilst also contributing to the climate crisis.

Following the appeal process, the Heathrow expansion was ruled illegal because ministers did not take into account the government’s commitments to tackle climate change, as per the Paris Climate Agreement.

Heathrow has stated that it will appeal the court of appeal’s verdict on the proposal, and is confident that it will succeed, however former Transport Secretary Justine Greening claimed that the third runway is “grounded for good”. Furthermore, there is some speculation that Gatwick Airport may now attempt a second bid to expand their emergency airline into a second runway, which could potentially attract over 100,000 flights annually.

This most recent setback for the proposal is just one in the long history of the third runway; it is a story that mode transport will be keeping a close eye on as it is a very important ruling not just for Heathrow, but for all future transport infrastructure projects.