Fears PM will use court defeat as an excuse to shelve Heathrow project

‘Don’t wobble’ plea to PM over third runway: Fears that Boris will use court defeat as an excuse to shelve £14bn Heathrow project

  • Judges last year gave the green light for Heathrow’s third runway to be built
  • But opponents will this week find out if they have won legal fight to block it
  • PM Boris Johnson ‘could use potential legal setback to shelve project entirely’
  • But business leaders and his own Tory MPs have urged him to back the runway

Boris Johnson was last night urged to bury his doubts and press ahead with Heathrow’s third runaway amid fears he could use a potential legal setback this week to ditch the plan.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other opponents of the airport expansion are expected to learn on Thursday whether they have won a High Court challenge against the Government over the £14 billion project.

Mr Khan and five local authorities in the capital launched an appeal after judges gave the new runway the green light last year.

Ready for take-off? Boris Johnson is pictured above with a new-style British passport. In the Commons earlier this month, the Prime Minister cast doubt over the development by warning that there was ‘no immediate prospect’ of construction

The Mail on Sunday understands the case could hang on claims that the impact of emissions from extra air traffic have been overlooked.

If the High Court challenge is successful, the project would effectively be blocked until the Government responds.

However, reports this weekend suggested Mr Johnson – who as a local MP pledged to lie down in front of the bulldozers to prevent a third runway – could use the potential legal setback to shelve the project entirely and stay faithful to his original opposition.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and other opponents of the airport expansion are expected to learn on Thursday whether they have won a High Court challenge against the Government over the £14 billion project

Yesterday, Tory MPs and business leaders called on Mr Johnson to throw his weight behind the new runway. They said expanding Heathrow would deliver a vital post-Brexit economic boost.

Former Justice Minister Crispin Blunt warned ‘if the Government wobbled on this’, it would cast a shadow over other major infrastructure projects.

The Reigate MP also condemned the way a decision already made by MPs could be threatened by the courts. 

‘It would be appalling for the courts to overturn what Parliament has already agreed itself (based) on a detail and authoritative commission,’ he said.

‘The third runway at Heathrow is essential and overdue national infrastructure, especially post-Brexit as we look to develop our global links.

‘Our continental competitors will seize on any delay to the project to steal business away from our principal national airport.’

And Peter Hargreaves, the billionaire founder of investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘I firmly believe the bulldozers should be there now. If we want to compete in the world we need the biggest and best airport in the world.’

The Heathrow expansion plan has already been given outline approval from MPs, with the Commons voting overwhelmingly in favour in June 2018. 

But in the Commons earlier this month, the Prime Minister cast doubt over the development by warning that there was ‘no immediate prospect’ of construction.

In a debate on the HS2 project, Liberal Democrat MP Munira Wilson urged Mr Johnson to ‘make good his promise of lying down in front of the bulldozers, or far more simply, just cancel the third runway’.

Reports this weekend suggested Mr Johnson – who as a local MP pledged to lie down in front of the bulldozers to prevent a third runway – could use the potential legal setback to shelve the project entirely and stay faithful to his original opposition. Heathrow’s Terminal Four is pictured above

In reply, the Prime Minister suggested he was unlikely to have to fulfil his promise in the near future, saying: ‘I see no bulldozers at present and no immediate prospect of them arriving.’

During the General Election campaign last year, Mr Johnson said that claims that he cannot be trusted ‘make my blood boil’.

Last night, one Tory MP said privately that the Prime Minister would be agonising about not keeping his previous pledge over Heathrow.

The MP said: ‘Boris will not want to be seen as breaking his word or not being trusted by the electorate – it will really matter to him.’

A spokesman for Mr Khan told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘Sadiq has serious concerns about the impact of a third runway on air quality, climate change, noise pollution and public transport.’

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