Planning permission had been granted in 2022 by a panel of three PINS inspectors, following a 9 week planning inquiry held in 2021 (see this news item).
The challenge had been brought by the Bristol Airport Action Network Coordinating Committee (BAANCC) on six grounds, five of which related to climate change and the sixth to Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA).
The High Court dismissed the application for judicial review on all six grounds (judgment available here):
Ground 1 – the interpretation of Local Plan policies in relation to aviation climate change emissions – see, in particular, paragraphs 81-95
Ground 2 – the inspectors’ approach to the Government’s Making Best Use (MBU) policy in relation to existing UK runway capacity – see, in particular, paragraphs 110-121
Ground 3 – the application of paragraph 188 of the NPPF on assuming that non-planning control mechanisms will operate effectively – see, in particular, paragraphs 138-152
Ground 4 – aviation and the role of the IEMA guidance on local carbon budgets – see, in particular, paragraphs 165-176
Ground 5 – the treatment of non-CO2 aviation emissions – see, in particular, paragraphs 199-235
Ground 6 – the difference between mitigation and compensation in HRA – see, in particular, paragraphs 252-255
The decision is a helpful restatement of well-established legal principles and their application to climate change in the context of the Bristol Airport inspectors’ decision letter.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was represented in the High Court by Government Legal Service instructing Mark Westmoreland Smith and Charles Streeten.
Bristol Airport Limited was represented at the planning inquiry and in the High Court by Victoria Redman and Elizabeth Tones of Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP instructing Michael Humphries KC and Daisy Noble.