THE prospect of a third runway at Heathrow is in doubt after the Court of Appeal accused the government of failing to take account of its own commitments to tackling climate change.

The appeal was brought by a group of councils in London affected by the expansion, environmental charities including Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth and Plan B, and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Campaigners hailed the ruling as a victory, and said it had “killed off” plans for a third runway for good and that the project is now “politically unacceptable”.

However, Heathrow Airport insisted it will press on with expansion and will work with the Government on the climate change issue, with a spokeswoman saying it is “eminently fixable”.

The issue was raised in Holyrood, with LibDem leader Willie Rennie asking the First Minister to rip up the Scottish Government’s memorandum of understanding with the airport.

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This 2016 agreement was based on the creation of 16,000 Scottish jobs and the possibility that Glasgow Prestwick airport could become a logistics hub for the construction of the runway.

However, in a 2018 vote on the expansion of the London airport in the Commons, SNP MPs abstained.

The party claimed the UK Government had “failed to make the case” for the move. MPs eventually overwhelmingly supported the Government’s plan by 415 votes to 119.

In Holyrood yesterday Rennie asked the First Minister if she was “glad that a court has stopped

Heathrow expansion”.

Sturgeon said she wanted to “see all policies from both the Scottish and Westminster governments aligning with our climate change ambitions”.

She added: “In Scotland’s case, that is the need to get to a net-zero position by 2045. Increasingly, questions have been raised, understandably and rightly, about whether expanding Heathrow in that way would align with that climate change responsibility.”

Rennie accused the SNP leader of waffling.

“The court found that the United Kingdom Government had failed to carry out an environmental assessment of its Paris climate change commitments.

“The Scottish Government made exactly the same mistake when it signed the memorandum of understanding on Heathrow. Our parliamentary questions found that no climate change assessment had been made by Scottish ministers.

“They missed 600,000 tonnes of emissions, but the First Minister told us not to worry because the Tories were taking care of the environmental side of things. That looks pretty stupid today.

“Will the First Minister confirm that she is finally ripping up her agreement in support of Heathrow expansion?” he added.

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Sturgeon told MSPs:”I do not know how to make it clearer to Willie Rennie that the decision on Heathrow expansion is not for the Scottish Government.

“It is not within our power or areas of responsibility. We said that, if it was going ahead, any economic benefit should not miss out Scotland.

“I hope that Willie Rennie understands that. In terms of our climate change ambitions, unlike the UK Government we include emissions from aviation in the calculation of our overall emissions.

“Again, Willie Rennie should be aware –I am sure that I have pointed it out in the Chamber previously – that we are in the latter stages of the process of updating our climate change action plan, which will be published in April.”

The First Minister told Rennie to stop “getting up and calling for things that are outwith the powers of the Scottish Government” and “put his shoulder to the wheel”.