London's mayor directs TfL to help Heathrow legal challengers

A passenger plane takes off from Heathrow airport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption London's mayor Sadiq Khan has directed TfL to provide advice and assistance to councils mounting a legal challenge to airport expansion at Heathrow

The mayor of London has directed the city's transport authority to support councils mounting a legal bid against Heathrow expansion.

Sadiq Khan, who is also chair of Transport for London (TfL), said he opposed the government's decision for a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

He told the London Assembly he "would not stand by" and see residents "suffer increased air and noise pollution".

The airport said it was "confident" any legal challenge would be defeated.

Previously the airport said it believed technology would help it to mitigate any rise in pollution.

But, addressing London Assembly members at Mayor's Question Time, Mr Khan said: "I promised I wouldn't just stand-by and see hundreds of thousands suffer from the additional noise and air pollution that a third runway would cause.

"That's why I've directed TfL to provide their expert advice and assistance to support Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead Councils and Greenpeace as they prepare for a joint legal challenge, and why I will be ready for us to play an active role in the action if required."

'Strengthen arguments'

A spokesman for the airport said "detailed work" by the Airports Commission had supported the government's decision for a third runway.

"We are confident that any legal challenge would be unsuccessful and would not affect the timeline for delivering a third runway," he said.

"We want to work with the Mayor to ensure that Heathrow expansion helps London thrive as a global hub for talent, tourism and trade."

Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council, said the mayor's commitment was "very good news" and would significantly strengthen the councils' legal arguments.

He said: "Transport for London's resources and technical expertise will be hugely helpful to developing our case and exposing the deeply flawed logic supporting Heathrow expansion."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many in west London are opposed to plans to expand Heathrow

The government said Heathrow Airport had made firm commitments to deal with noise pollution which are a condition of expansion.

The independent Airports Commission, set up to advise the government on airport expansion, said because of the mitigation measures fewer people would be affected by aircraft noise in 2030 than currently, even allowing for an increase in flights from a third runway.

London's chamber of commerce and industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: "Any further delay can only hinder rather than help London and directly undermines the message that London is open for business.

"Not everyone may have agreed with the Government's decision last month, but we all need to get behind it now and recognise that expansion at Heathrow is the best chance we have to future proof our economy."

Mr Khan has directed TfL to undertake further assessment of the potential impact a third runway may have on London, and to work with the government in the preparation of its National Policy Statement to ensure the environmental issues are fully understood.

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