Slide background

High Court rejects judicial review challenge to grant of planning permission for Southampton runway expansion

The High Court has rejected a claim against Eastleigh Borough Council over its decision to grant planning permission for a runway extension at Southampton Airport.

In Goesa Ltd, R (On the Application Of) v Eastleigh Borough Council [2022] EWHC 1221, Mr Justice Holgate dismissed all five grounds brought by the residents' group.

Permission for the expansion was granted in June 2021, following a protracted process which included four rounds of public consultation between 2019 and 2021.

Objectors to the development included the adjoining local authorities, Southampton City Council and Winchester City Council.

Article continues below...


The High Court initially refused to grant permission for two judicial review challenges over the 164-metre runway extension in the Autumn of last year.

But one of the claims brought by the Group Opposed to the Expansion of Southampton Airport Ltd (GOESA) was renewed in November.

GOESA, which is a legal entity set up by local residents, contended that:

  • The decision was unlawfully made in breach of a legitimate expectation not to issue the planning permission until the Secretary of State had fully had time to decide whether or not to call in the application and cause a public local inquiry to be held.
  • By making no assessment of the cumulative effects of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions in combination with other projects, the defendant council breached its duty under the EIA Regulations, and/or failed to take into account an obviously material consideration.
  • The defendant misinterpreted the policy at paragraph 11(d) NPPF, leading it unlawfully to apply the "tilted balance" in favour of the grant of permission, but without it making the necessary prior finding that the "most important policies for determining the application" were out of date.
  • The defendant unlawfully took into account an immaterial consideration, namely that refusing planning permission would lead to the loss of the airport.
  • The defendant proceeded upon an insufficient evidential basis before concluding that the airport would be operating below its break-even point without expansion.

However, all five grounds were rejected by the judge in a decision handed down on Monday (23 May).

The leader of Eastleigh Borough Council, Cllr Keith House, said: "This is good news and supports the High Court's previous decision in October 2021 to reject a Judicial Review of the decision made by the council to permit an extension to the runway. This now means that the airport can move forward with its plans, save the airport for the future, generate jobs for our local economy and secure tough controls on overall passenger numbers to protect our environment".

Leigh Day, the solicitors firm representing the claimants, said they could not confirm if there would be an appeal at this stage.

Adam Carey

Sponsored Editorial

Slide background