Southampton Airport Extension Grounded After Legal Challenge | news

Another UK airport expansion plan was halted after a lawsuit over environmental concerns.

Plans to extend the runway at Southampton Airport were derailed after a dispute was heard in the High Court.

Campaign group Geosa Ltd (Group Against Southampton Airport Expansion) received a judicial review of Eastleigh City Council’s decision to approve a 164-meter extension of the airport’s runway in April.

The plans were approved by 22-13 votes after a grueling 19-hour debate one month after being rejected by the local council area committee.

Supporters say the extension, which would enable long-haul flights, has widespread local support and would create hundreds of jobs.

However, activists at the time said the move was a “bleak day” for the environment and a “setback in moving towards a sustainable future.”

Goesa Ltd has crowdfunded £ 20,000 and received £ 35,000 in direct donations to pay for the judicial review being carried out by a legal team led by Leigh Day and David Wolfe QC.

The group said the airport has “grossly overestimated the economic benefits of the expansion, which will affect the quality of life of around 46,000 residents, while the environmental impact is greatly underestimated.”

It added that judicial review was the only way to give “full scrutiny” to the decision.

Airport operations director Steve Szalay said the group was trying to challenge a “democratic decision”.

He said: “We are very disappointed with your decision to take legal action, especially given that nearly 4,800 locals wrote in to express their support for the plans.

“The runway extension is an important part of our plans for the airport’s future and will provide Eastleigh and the central south with significant economic and employment opportunities.

“Unfortunately, this legal challenge will delay the creation of much-needed jobs at a time of high post-pandemic unemployment, including 265 vacancies during construction.”

Szalay added, “Given the extensive review and public consultation by the Eastleigh Borough Council, we are confident that the courts will support the council’s decision to approve the runway application.”

The challenge comes after proposals to redevelop Leeds Bradford Airport were delayed in April by Robert Jenrick after a referral to the government for the program’s contribution to climate change.

The expansion plans of Birmingham Airport were also put on hold last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court has now cleared the way for Heathrow Airport’s third runway after it was ruled unlawful last year when the High Court said it violated the Paris Agreement.

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