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Heathrow’s third runway ‘like a new airport’, court told

Unhappy landing: Zac Goldsmith (above right) joins protesters outside High Court PICTURE: PA

CONTROVERSIAL plans to expand Heathrow would effectively create a ‘new airport’ and have severe consequences for Londoners, the High Court heard.

The government’s approval of a third runway is being challenged by a coalition of councils, residents, environmental charities and London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Outlining the case against transport secretary Chris Grayling on behalf of five London boroughs, Greenpeace and Mr Khan, Nigel Pleming QC said the plans could lead to 132million passengers at Heathrow, a 60 per cent rise.

He said: ‘The new development, if it goes ahead, will add, in effect, a new airport with the capacity of Gatwick to the north of Heathrow.

‘Thousands of people’s homes will be demolished. Hundreds of thousands will experience increased noise, worsened traffic and harmful air pollution.’

The coalition says the government’s national policy statement, setting out its support for the project, fails to deal with the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion. They argue that the statement is unlawful and should be quashed, which would mean the government having to put it to another parliamentary vote.

Lawyers representing Mr Grayling said the claimants’ case is ‘premature’ as they will all have the opportunity to make representations at a later stage in the planning process. The hearing is expected to last two weeks.

Scores of demonstrators gathered outside the court before the hearing. Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, said: ‘If you look at the proposals for flight paths, they affect most of London.’