Greater Manchester must heed Heathrow judgement on airport expansion

GM-CAN’s Response to the Decision on Heathrow’s Proposed Third Runway

We, the members of Greater Manchester Climate Action Network (GM-CAN1) welcome the news that Heathrow’s plan to build a third runway has been ruled unlawful. This ruling is a reminder to planners that the country’s commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions must be taken into account when considering development proposals, and it should be a warning to airport owners that they have a responsibility to everyone to align their plans with the scientific evidence on climate change. Airports can no longer ignore their immense contribution to the global climate crisis.

No nation, government or organisation which takes climate change seriously should consider increasing the capacity of an airport. Potential economic benefits, based on speculative assessments, are simply not grounds to authorise expansion of large, carbon-intensive infrastructure. On the contrary, the scientific evidence strongly indicates that a path must be found to radically reduce aviation. We recognise this is a serious challenge for economies and localities that are dependent on aviation, and Manchester is no exception. However, we remind those in leadership positions that there will be no prosperity under conditions of climate collapse.

Manchester Airports Group has “ambitious plans to grow its passenger market from 23 million trips per annum in 2015 to 45 million”2. In the light of the Heathrow ruling, we call on Manchester Airport, Manchester City Council and other shareholders to reconsider any such growth in aviation since it is not compatible with the UK’s legal obligations to become under the Climate Change Act, nor with the Council’s commitment for Manchester to be a zero carbon city by 2038.

Yet here in Greater Manchester, we are set to open a £1 billion airport terminal later this year. We urge our civic leaders and the Manchester Airport Group to consider how this legal ruling, and recent decisions of other councils nationwide to say no to airport expansion indicate a gathering storm for the aviation industry and to take smarter next steps towards a truly low carbon future economy in Greater Manchester.


  1. GM-CAN members are Green Drinks Manchester, Manchester Friends of the Earth, GM SERA, Manchester Extinction Rebellion, Manchester Climate Emergency, Steady State Manchester, Fossil Free Greater Manchester and Frack Free Greater Manchester. This statement was prepared by representatives from some of these groups. It does not necessarily represent the view of every constituent group and all their members but due to the topicality of the issue this statement is thought to coincide with the consensus view among climate campaigners in Greater Manchester.
  2. Greater Manchester 2040 Transport Strategy. Para 202, Page 66.

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