New Civil Engineer - Angus Walker

A challenge by pressure group Bristol Airport Action Network Co-ordinating Committee to the decision by the secretary of state for Levelling-up, Housing and Communities to allow Bristol Airport to increase its passenger cap from 10M to 12M per year has been unsuccessful.

The secretary of state had previously granted an appeal by Bristol Airport against the refusal of the expansion application by North Somerset Council (a planning application rather than a DCO), and both the airport and council were interested parties in the litigation.

The challenge was made on six grounds, four relating to carbon dioxide emissions, one to other emissions and one to habitats. Each one, and particularly the third, will be of interest to others involved in airport expansion.  The crux was whether carbon emissions were a planning issue, given that the Climate Change Act introduced a separate trading scheme and so such matters should arguably not be considered twice.

The judge held that the two inspectors granting the planning appeal were entitled to decide how emissions were to be dealt with under the policies.  They decided that the emissions from airport expansion, likely to comprise 0.22-0.28% of the planning assumption for aviation across the country used in the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, would not have a material impact on the government's achievement of those budgets, and so the expansion would not be contrary to the development plan. The judge held that that was a rational application of the policies.

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