High Court Dismisses Bristol Airport Challenge – Appeal Considered

31 Jan 2023

The High Court today dismissed a statutory review of the government’s decision to allow an expansion of Bristol Airport to accommodate 12 million passengers a year. Bristol Airport Action Network (“BAAN”), a local group of campaigners, challenged the decision on climate and habitats grounds.

Mr Justice Lane emphasised that “climate change, with its consequences for human and other life on this planet” is “a matter of very great importance”, and stated that nothing in his judgment should be taken to contradict “the significance of climate change and [greenhouse gas emissions]”. He held that the emissions from any additional aircraft could not be ignored, and consideration of their impact fell within the ambit of the relevant local plan policies. However, he determined that local and national policy focused on whether the aviation emissions would be likely to have a material impact on the Secretary of State’s ability to meet his obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008, including the carbon budgets and the Panel of Planning Inspectors lawfully found the aviation emissions would not have that impact. He also held that the Panel lawfully excluded consideration of non-carbon-dioxide emissions from that assessment. On habitats, he concluded the Panel properly understood and applied the law that replacement land would mitigate any adverse impacts. BAAN is considering an appeal to the Court of Appeal.

The judgment is available here and coverage on the BBC is here.

Estelle Dehon KC represented BAAN, instructed by Ricardo Gama at Leigh Day.