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UK's Heathrow airport begins appeal against expansion block

Wed, 7th Oct 2020 14:01

LONDON, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Britain's Heathrow airport
launched an appeal to overturn a block on its expansion plans on
Wednesday, sticking to its long-held desire to build a new
runway despite the pandemic pushing passenger numbers down by
over 80%.

The $18 billion expansion was declared unlawful on
environmental grounds by a court in February, after a judge said
that a failure to take into account the UK government's
commitments on climate change was "legally fatal" to the plans.

But at a virtual Supreme Court hearing on Wednesday,
Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe prior to the pandemic,
said it had always been the case that planning permission would
depend on its compliance with carbon reduction obligations.

"Heathrow will ensure the expansion project is compliant
with the UK’s climate-change obligations, including under the
Paris Climate Agreement, as part of our plans to reach net-zero
carbon. We fully expect to be held to account by government
through the planning process," a Heathrow spokesman said.

Since the ruling against the runway in February, the
aviation sector has been hit by its worst ever downturn, meaning
Heathrow now has plenty of spare capacity.

But the airport, owned by Spain's Ferrovial, the
Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp among
others, continues to want to expand.

"My instructions are very clear on this: Heathrow Airport
Limited does still wish to construct the Northwest runway," said
lawyer David Anderson at the hearing.

By 2030, when the runway could be completed, he said the
pandemic would be a "distant memory".

A judgment is expected in early 2021.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Stephen Addison)

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