The Scottish Government continues its commitment to a third runway being built at Heathrow, despite the climate impacts, and has revealed that Transport Minister Michael Matheson MSP has been meeting airport bosses but that there is no formal record of what was discussed at the last 3 meetings. The latest information came in a parliamentary answer to the Liberal Democrats.

Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon commented,
“It is incredible that, despite signs that they were reconsidering in light of the climate emergency, the Scottish Government remains committed to their backroom deal with Heathrow Airport. The High Court ruled in February 2020 that the UK government’s decision to expand Heathrow was illegal on climate grounds.

“The Scottish Government cannot continue to support this climate-wrecking project which is opposed by those residents living nearby as well anyone who is serious about bringing down emissions in line with climate science.

“The Minister must be clear about what the Heathrow bosses told him in these un-minuted meetings that convinced him to somehow turn a blind eye to the devastating climate impact of aviation. Transport is the most polluting sector in terms of climate emissions and the Minister needs to get tough with these polluting bosses, not host these cosy off-the-record chats.

“There were hopeful signs when SNP MPs abstained on the Westminster vote on a third runway, and the First Minister committed to looking at the third runway through a ‘lens of climate change.’ But, despite their fine words on climate change and the legal ruling, the Scottish Government appears to have reverted to their previous unquestioning support for Heathrow expansion.

“Coronavirus has decimated the international air travel market so it is pure folly to believe that this project will ever get off the ground. We should instead be investing our time and resources into a green recovery that prioritises public transport and bringing down climate emissions from aviation, the most polluting sector of transport.”

Notes to Editors

1. The Scottish Government’s current position was confirmed in an answer by Michael Matheson to written questions from Willie Rennie MSP

2. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland won a high court case in Feb 2020 opposing the plans for Heathrow’s Third Runway due to its impact on the climate. https://friendsoftheearth.uk/climate-change/friends-earth-wins-campaign-protect-climate-heathrow-third-runway

3. Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland briefing on that decision and its implications https://cdn.friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/Friends%20of%20the%20Earth%20Legal%20Briefing%20-%20Heathrow%20Judgment%20-%2027%20Feb%202020%20final.pdf

4. Scottish Government Memorandum of Understanding setting out support for a Third Runway at Heathrow https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-19-01055/

5. SNP MPs abstained on the vote to expand Heathrow airport, helping hand a victory to the Government and Labour rebels in June 2018 https://foe.scot/press-release/heathrow-expansion/

6. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.