Activist judges have vetoed plans for a third runway at London’s busiest airport because, they claim, it clashes with Britain’s obligations under the Paris climate agreement.
Naturally, the left-wing media can scarcely disguise its glee. According to the Guardian:
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport have been ruled illegal by the court of appeal because ministers did not adequately take into account the government’s climate change commitments.
The ruling is a major blow to the project at a time when public concern about the climate emergency is rising fast and the government has set a target in law of net zero emissions by 2050. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, could use the ruling to abandon the project, or the government could draw up a new policy document to approve the runway. The judge said ministers had not sought permission to appeal.
Johnson has opposed the runway, saying in 2015 that he would “lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction”. Heathrow is already one the busiest airports in the world, with 80 million passengers a year. The £14bn third runway could be built by 2028 and would bring 700 more planes per day and a big rise in carbon emissions.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who supported the legal action brought by green activists, said:
“We won! Today we blocked the Tory government plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Today’s judgment is a major victory for all Londoners who are passionate about tackling the climate emergency and cleaning up our air.”
Environment Minister Zac (now Lord) Goldsmith was similarly thrilled:
— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) February 27, 2020
But in truth, the ruling augurs extremely ill for Britain’s post-Brexit prospects as a mature, independent, forward-looking economy. What it shows is just how vulnerable Boris Johnson’s administration it is to the kind of destructive green activism which it has done little to discourage and much to stoke.
Britain undoubtedly needs to expand its airports’ carrying capacity. Its main airport, Heathrow, is horribly overstretched. Perhaps a third runway is not the answer and there are better alternatives, but that is really besides the point. Much more significant is that the green movement in alliance with activist judges — and with the full support of Conservative government ministers — now holds the whip hand over Britain’s economic future: eco-hysteria is being given priority over infrastructure and growth.
According to the Guardian this is the first time in the world that a court’s ruling has been based on the Paris agreement. If indeed it now has legal force — and the power to derail future proposed infrastructure projects — then it confirms the wisdom of President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris accord.
In theory, as Paul Homewood points out, the Paris agreement ought to have no legally binding power.
The UK, as part of the EU commitment, agreed to reductions in emissions, which are built into its carbon budgets and are on track. It is difficult to see what legal right three judges have in dictating to the government how these reductions should be managed. Particularly when the Heathrow expansion was overwhelmingly approved by Parliament.
The consequences of the activist judges’ ruling, though, could be disastrous indeed.
What this judgement does do is open the floodgates to challenges to any and every infrastructure development the green loons don’t like.
Indeed. What’s perhaps most worrying is that there are influential forces within Britain — including in the government and civil service — which want to take the war on air travel much further.
A recent study, sponsored by the UK government, has called for air travel effectively to be banned as part of the massive lifestyle adjustments needed if Britain is to meet its Net Zero carbon dioxide reduction targets.
As Homewood reports:
The report by UK FIRES, called Absolute Zero, calls for all UK airports to be shut by 2050, because there are no practical alternatives for zero emission flight. But as part of this timetable, all airports other than Heathrow, Glasgow and Belfast must shut by 2030.
In a stroke, air travel will be effectively banned for most of the country, as Heathrow simply would not have the capacity to handle more than a small proportion of demand. (Heathrow currently carries a quarter of UK passengers).
Under Boris Johnson, Britain is increasingly turning into a watermelon nation — green on the outside, red on the inside — forcing through policies so inimical to personal freedom and economic prosperity that it almost feels like the country is under a Labour or even a Green administration rather than a Conservative one.
Boris keeps saying he wants to honour the democratically expressed wishes of all those people who voted Brexit and leant their support to the Conservative party in order to see it through. But it’s hard to see how any of this oppressive, job-killing, prosperity-harming, freedom-destroying green nonsense is going to deliver on that promise.