Correspondent in London
This is undoubtedly a definitive end to the London Heathrow airport expansion project, a politically sensitive subject for many years. British justice has ruled Thursday Thursday to environmentalists who oppose the construction of a third runway at the busiest airport in Europe.
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The court ruled on appeal that this extension was not sufficiently respectful of the environment and compatible with the commitments made to limit global warming. "The Paris agreements should have been taken into account by the Minister of Transport, but that was not the case," said judge Keith Lindblom. Environmental movements have long denounced the risks of increased pollution and noise pollution. " We won! " Welcomed the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who supported this complaint, rejected at first instance in 2019.
Appeal to the Supreme Court
Heathrow Airport immediately announced its intention to appeal to the Supreme Court. The director general of the airport, John Holland-Kaye says he is convinced that he can turn things around: “This is not the end of the road. It's very repairable, ” he said. On the other hand, the government of Boris Johnson does not intend to appeal at the moment, which could bury the project for a long time. While recalling that the extension was aimed at "stimulating global connectivity" , Minister of Transport Grant Shapps assured that the government "was also taking its commitment to the environment seriously. London has promised to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
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With some 80 million passengers a day, Heathrow is already one of the busiest airports in the world. The third runway was supposed to allow the landing of 700 additional planes per day, bringing the number of passengers to more than 140 million per year. Costing an estimated £ 14 billion for the first phase, the works were to begin in 2022 for an operational runway in 2028. They were to be financed by the consortium of investors who own the airport, including sovereign wealth funds from China, from Singapore and Qatar.
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Boris Johnson, elected from a neighboring constituency, has never hidden his opposition to the extension project. He even once declared that he was ready to put his body in front of the wheels of the buldozers ... And, at the end of last year, having become prime minister, "BoJo" had expressed "doubts" about the possibilities preserve air quality and limit noise pollution.
At the time of Brexit and “Global Britain”, John Holland-Kaye nevertheless boasted of a project which would ensure the new global influence of the country and support economic growth. On Wednesday, he even said that rejecting the Heathrow extension would be to benefit Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport and to "cede control of the economy to the French, formerly our friends and partners and now our rivals "