Southampton Airport expansion: Residents' group secures High Court judicial review of controversial decision

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to expand a Hampshire runway is set to be reviewed by the High Court.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 9:35 pm

The approval of the runway extension at Southampton International Airport will be contested during a judicial review hearing on Wednesday (April 27).

During the two-day hearing at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, it will be argued by lawyers acting for the Group Opposed to the Expansion of Southampton Airport (GOESA) that Eastleigh Borough Council acted unlawfully when it granted permission for the 164m development to the north of the existing runway in June last year.

On June 3 the council reached an agreement with Southampton International Airport and on the same day issued planning permission for the runway extension, before a decision by the secretary of state had been made.

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Southampton Airport. Pic AGS Airports

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GOESA argues that Eastleigh council breached residents’ expectations that it would not grant planning permission until the communities secretary had time to rule on their request for a public inquiry, breached the town and country planning regulations by failing to assess the cumulative effects of potential greenhouse gas emissions and unlawfully applied the ‘tilted balance’ in favour of permission and was wrongly influenced by a publicity campaign asserting that the airport would have to close if permission were not granted.

It also believes the council ‘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.’

As reported, an initial request for a judicial review by GOESA and Bournemouth International Airport was rejected last year.