Freight industry welcomes legal ruling on third runway

Freight industry welcomes legal ruling on third runway at Heathrow

Freight industry groups have welcomed the High Court's recent decision to reject the arguments of campaigners challenging the legality of the UK government’s decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

The five legal challlenges from local authorities, environmentalists and rival bidders had all argued the plans should be scrapped.

Speaking after the ruling, Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), which represents more than 1,500 UK freight forwarding and logistics businesses, said: “On behalf of BIFA member companies, which are keen for the greater number of flights and accompanying airfreight capacity that would result from a new runway, I can only hope that yesterday’s ruling helps bring the debate on Heathrow expansion closer to an end.

“However, whilst some have said that the ruling is another important step towards bringing fifty years of indecision and delay on expanding Heathrow to a welcome close, the likelihood of further legal challenges to an extra runway emerging still leaves me with a certain sense of foreboding whether the spades will ever hit the ground.

“Any further legal challenges need to be handled robustly and need to be accompanied by an expedited planning procedure, which has been mentioned previously, with no reopening of high level arguments.”

For several years, BIFA has welcomed plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, and criticised the years of argument and delay.

Keen concluded: “It would be nice to think that yesterday’s ruling is a further nail in the coffin of procrastination over the expansion of UK aviation capacity. If that is the case, it is long overdue good news for our 1,500 member companies who have been dismayed over the ongoing delay on such a huge issue.”

Alex Veitch, head of multimodal policy at the Freight Transport Association, (FTA), which represents more than 17,000 logistics businesses, said the ruling will “reinforce the nation’s position as a global trading hub after Brexit”. 

“Heathrow is already Britain’s largest port by value, and more capacity is needed to enable British businesses and consumers to thrive in our global economy. Expansion should of course proceed within environmental constraints, and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to support a sustainable aviation sector for the future,” Veitch told Lloyd’s Loading List.

A Heathrow spokesperson said the ruling is “a further demonstration that the debate on Heathrow expansion has been had and won, not only in Parliament, but in the courts also. We are getting on with delivering the once-in-a-generation project that will connect Britain to global growth, providing thousands of new jobs and an economic boost for this country and its future generations.”