Boris Johnson once promised to lie down in front of the bulldozers to stop Heathrow’s third runway ever being built. Fortunately for the Prime Minister, it now seems that he might not have to. The airport’s expansion plans have been thrown into doubt this morning after opponents won a legal fight against a new runway at Britain’s biggest airport.
The Court of Appeal agreed with campaigners that then-transport secretary Chris Grayling ignored air quality and noise pollution concerns when he gave the project the green light in 2018. It now falls to Boris Johnson to appeal the ruling. But, of course, given his previous promises – and his fears about breaking these and losing voters’ trust – this is something he will not do.
This doesn’t mean that Heathrow won’t ever be expanded. The judges who made the ruling said a third runway could be built in the future, so long as the Government’s commitments to dealing with climate change are taken into consideration. But for now there will be no new runway. This is a huge victory for the campaigners, environmental groups, councils and Sadiq Khan who brought the case. And it’s also a huge relief to Boris Johnson, who can avoid an embarrassing confrontation with the bulldozers.