Julian Francis, Director of External Affairs at the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), which represents the companies large and small who design, deliver ad operate our national infrastructure, comments on the longer-term implications of today’s Heathrow decision.
“From now on, every infrastructure spending decision in the UK could face a legal challenge if it doesn't comply with the Climate Change Act, which mandates zero emissions by 2050. It's not clear at present that this was an outcome that MPs intended when they signed up to the 2050 target, but in today's court ruling, it's what they've got.
“The judgement’s implications are clearly wider than just Heathrow as the Judges have stated that climate change must be kept at the heart of all planning decisions and that developers and public authorities can be held to account if their proposed schemes negatively impact UK climate change commitments.
“So I predict that the government will now be looking at ways to mitigate the implications of the judgement. However, in the short term, Heathrow is in limbo and as the Prime Minister has announced that he does not plan to appeal against the ruling, this will undoubtedly also call into question aviation expansion in the UK more generally - there is currently no viable technical fix to make planes zero-carbon.”