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High Court to hear challenge to grant of planning permission for airport runway extension

The High Court will this week hear a legal challenge brought by a residents’ group over Eastleigh Borough Council’s grant of planning permission for an extension to the runway at Southampton International Airport.

Eastleigh granted permission for the 164-metre development in June 2021.

The claimant, GOESA, argues that borough council:

  • Breached residents’ legitimate expectation that it would not grant planning permission until the Communities Secretary had had time to rule on their request for a public inquiry.
  • Breached the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 by failing to assess the cumulative effects of potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would be caused by the runway extension. “The Environmental Statement produced by Southampton International Airport only described the GHG emissions from this proposed development and not those from other linked airport expansions”;
  • Unlawfully applied the “tilted balance” in favour of permission when the most important policies for determining the application were out of date contrary to the National Policy and Planning Framework. “The council concluded that, because one part of policy was out of date, that allowed it to apply the ‘titled balance’.”
  • The council was wrongly influenced by a publicity campaign asserting that the airport would have to close if permission were not granted. “It disregarded potential economic harms of the extension and factored into its decision projected benefits without seeing the proper evidence for them.”

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said: “There is a real issue of local democracy at stake here. How can it be lawful for Eastleigh Borough Council to promise to wait for central Government, to respond to local requests for further scrutiny of the airport extension, but then grant planning permission before allowing that oversight process to be completed? Our clients believe this should be properly examined by the High Court, and look forward to putting their arguments robustly to the Judge.”

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Leigh Day has instructed counsel David Wolfe of Matrix Law, Ashley Bowes of Cornerstone Barristers and Peter Lockley of 11KBW.

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