UK government’s own climate laws may halt roadbuilding plans
Analysis: campaigners argue that, as with Heathrow, climate obligations should make £27bn scheme unviable
The first sign that the government was in serious trouble over the long-mooted expansion of Heathrow airport came in a little-noticed letter from the Department for Transport in May 2019. In it, a government official acknowledged for the first time that the UK’s obligations under the Paris agreement, and its carbon budgets, would have to be taken into account in infrastructure planning decisions.
At that point the government had publicly vowed to press ahead with the airport expansion following a parliamentary vote in favour in June 2018. But the letter, to the green campaign group Plan B, showed its decision was vulnerable, as the official wrote: “I can confirm that the department will carefully consider this request [for a review of the airports national policy statement]. As well as giving careful consideration to the net zero report and the declaration of environment and climate emergency … it may be necessary to consider the Committee on Climate Change’s recommended policy approach for aviation … and any relevant decisions taken by the government in the coming months as a result.”