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High Court agrees to hear judicial review challenge over permission for Southampton airport runway expansion

The High Court has given campaign group GOESA permission to bring a judicial review challenge over Eastleigh Borough Council's grant of planning permission for an extension to the runway at Southampton Airport.

The group had initially been refused permission on the papers but made a renewed application.

GOESA contends that the borough council breached legitimate expectation, wrongly concluded the airport would not be viable without the extension, and failed to assess the effects of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the runway in the context of UK aviation as a whole.

The first ground claims the council breached residents’ legitimate expectation that it would not grant planning permission until the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government had had time to rule on various requests to call in the application for a public inquiry.

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GOESA contends that planning consent was granted in June 2021 in the face of a public statement on Eastleigh’s website that it had agreed not to issue consent until the Secretary of State had made his determination.

Solicitors at Leigh Day are acting for the claimants. They have instructed David Wolfe QC of Matrix Law.

John Lauwerys of GOESA Ltd said: “We are delighted that this latest decision will enable us to set out our case, which we believe to be very powerful. We have said all along that Eastleigh Borough Council's decision to allow the airport expansion was fundamentally flawed."

Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith said: "The court’s decision is a clear vindication of all the hard work and perseverance local residents and campaigners have put into the legal case. I am very glad to say that they will now have another opportunity to convince the court that permission for an expanded Southampton airport was unlawfully granted and should be reversed.”

Eastleigh's Leader, Cllr Keith House, said the decision was “disappointing news” and went against the High Court’s previous decision in October 2021 to refuse permission for the judicial review challenge.

He added: “It is the council’s intention to vigorously defend its decision at the High Court.”

Adam Carey

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