Bristol Airport expansion approval 'was legal'

Illustration of airport expansion plan
Image caption Campaigners had argued the decision making process was legally flawed

Campaigners have been refused permission to challenge plans to expand Bristol International Airport.

A judge at London's High Court said the Stop Bristol Airport Expansion campaign group (SBAE) did not have a legally arguable case.

Protesters had argued North Somerset councillors should have taken the issue of climate change into account when the plans were approved last year.

Mr Justice Collins ruled that advice given to councillors was not wrong.

Nathalie Lieven QC, appearing for the group, had contended that councillors considering the planning application were advised by council officers that climate change "was not a material consideration" to be taken into account by local planners as they were bound by Government policy as set out in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper (ATWP).

Ms Lieven argued the ATWP was now out of date. She said climate change was a local, as well as national and international issue, and therefore relevant to airport expansion.

'Very disappointing'

Rejecting her argument, Mr Justice Collins said: "The government, for good or ill, has maintained the ATWP for the time being as the relevant policy document.

"It seems to me it cannot be an error of law for advice to be given to follow that policy."

Campaign spokeswoman Hilary Burn said: "It is a very disappointing result by Mr Justice Collins that the ATWP of 2003 still stands.

"The government now needs to review that document in the light of up-to-date information on climate change.

"It also needs to recognise that it is essential that local authorities taking decisions of this kind need to take take climate change into account."

Campaigners have said they fear there will be a huge increase in flights. They have also said carbon emissions will double if the airport is expanded.

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