GACC welcomes the judgement by the Court of Appeal that ANPS was unlawful – that would also apply at Gatwick
GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) welcomes the judgement by the Court of Appeal that the Government’s Airports National Policy (ANPS) was unlawful, as it failed to take into account the Government’s commitment to the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The ANPS was an important and relevant consideration in respect of applications for new runway capacity and other airport infrastructure elsewhere in London and the South East. GACC believes the Court’s decision therefore raises the bar for all airport expansion decisions. It is good news for communities impacted by any UK airport that wants to expand, and for our environment more widely. For Gatwick the Court’s decision, if confirmed by the Supreme Court, has important implications, as the climate impacts of a new Gatwick runway would be similar to those of Heathrow. Also if Gatwick tries to make greater use of its existing runway, adding another 50,000 annual flights, and another 12 million annual passengers, would be a huge increase in carbon emissions. This would be clearly contrary to the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.
GACC welcomes the judgement by the Court of Appeal that the Government’s Airports National Policy was unlawful
28.2.2020 (GACC press release)
GACC (Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign) welcomes the judgement by the Court of Appeal that the Government’s Airports National Policy was unlawful, as it failed to take into account the Government’s commitment to the provisions of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
In addition to providing the basis for detailed planning decisions on proposals for a third runway at Heathrow, the ANPS was an important and relevant consideration in respect of applications for new runway capacity and other airport infrastructure elsewhere in London and the South East.
We believe the Court’s decision therefore raises the bar for all airport expansion decisions. It is good news for communities impacted by any UK airport that wants to expand, and for our environment more widely.
For Gatwick the Court’s decision, if confirmed by the Supreme Court, has three important implications:
- Suggestions that the new runway should be built at Gatwick instead of at Heathrow, made for example by the London Mayor and by four London Boroughs, are kyboshed. The climate change damage caused by a new Gatwick runway would be the exactly the same as for one at Heathrow. Gatwick Airport’s plan for a full-scale new runway, south of the existing runway, which was the basis of their massive publicity campaign from 2013 – 2016, and which is repeated in their current Master Plan, can be put in the waste bin.
- Gatwick’s plans for regular use of the emergency runway north of the existing runway cannot proceed. They would result in an additional 1 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, increase noise and congestion and reduce air quality. In the light of this judgement Gatwick should withdraw its expansion proposals.
- Gatwick’s proposals to increase the number of flights by around 50,000 pa, and the number of passengers by over 12.0 million per year by more intensive use of the existing runway are – like the Heathrow runway – clearly contrary to the Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2050. At present, as pointed out pessimistically by the planning officers of local Councils, there appears to be no method to prevent this expansion through the planning system. Local planning authorities should now bring forward proposals to cap Gatwick’s operations and so prevent any future growth unless and until it can be clearly demonstrated to be consistent with the Paris Agreement and the UK’s 2050 net zero obligations.
GACC will continue to campaign vigorously to deflate Gatwick’s climate-destroying ambitions.
It was significant that the Court of Appeal did not overturn the Heathrow National Policy Statement decisions regarding air quality or noise. The Court also specifically stated that it was not challenging the Government’s decision that Heathrow was preferable to Gatwick as providing a superior hub airport. So there is no case to argue that a new runway at Gatwick would be a better choice.
In recent months local planning authorities have rejected plans for growth at Bristol and Stansted airports principally on environmental grounds. The Court’s decision today, and the Government’s acceptance of the decision, should end plans for airport expansion and runway development anywhere in the UK.
GACC congratulates our fellow campaigners for their efforts in achieving this result.
Gatwick’s Big Enough (GBE) campaign update
Last year the GBE campaign, which GACC leads, wrote to all the county and district /town councils around the airport asking them to put in place arrangements to ensure all Gatwick’s growth was robustly scrutinised, consulted on and subject to planning consent.
Proposed growth deriving from potential use of Gatwick’s emergency runway will be subject to a planning process known as a Development Consent Order(DCO), but that the larger
share of proposed growth, deriving from more intensive use of the current main runway, is not currently subject to any planning approval.
We believe this is wrong in principle and against government policy (and we have written separately to the government on it).
On 31st January we received the response from some of the councils closest to the airport. Essentially their view is that, however desirable planning consent for main runway growth might be, councils have no mechanisms under current planning law to require it. (See below).
They argue that alternative agreements between the airport and councils provide a degree of control over the impacts of growth.
We are considering the councils’ response and continuing to engage with them. We strongly disagree that the alternative arrangements currently in place provide effective control: in our view they are feeble.
We will report further on this in due course.
More encouragingly other councils have taken a more robust view on Gatwick growth and we are engaging with them too.
And some news from government:
Kelly Tolhurst MP has been appointed Aviation Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State) at the DfT. She is the 6th Aviation minister in 3 years – they don’t last long !
Part of the letter from the local authorities to GBE:
“We have carefully investigated the various points made in your letter and write to provide our conclusions. In summary, the increase in passenger numbers from 46 million per annum to 61 million per annum in the absence of the proposed DCO authorising the use of the Northern Runway does not constitute a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 nor is it development requiring planning permission under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.”
“Your suggested actions
We note that the annex to your letter includes a number of suggested actions that you would like the Authorities to undertake. We address each of these in turn.
1. “Request the Secretary of State to ensure that his policy […] is fully delivered” – The government’s policy needs to be viewed in the context of the Planning Act 2008 which sets out the legal framework for determining whether development is an NSIP. As set out above, the Authorities do not consider that GAL’s proposals to increase passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa satisfy the statutory requirements for an NSIP.
2. “Invite the SoS to direct that the project be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project under section 35 of the Planning Act 2008” – While the Authorities acknowledge the national significance of the airport, they do not currently consider that the increase in passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa (or the physical works proposed by GAL in connection with this increase) constitutes development which should be subject to a section 35 order. The increase in passenger numbers is largely to be achieved through operational changes which do not constitute “development” for the purposes of the Planning Act 2008. In any event, under section 35ZA of the Planning Act 2008, it is not for the Authorities to make such an application. It is for the Authorities, and for Crawley Borough Council in particular, to monitor that development is carried out in accordance the various planning legislation. If we consider that any development is not being carried out in accordance with the legislation, it is open to Crawley Borough Council to take enforcement action.
3. “Investigate whether the main runway growth will require “alterations that would bring it within the scope of the 2008 Act” – The Authorities expect GAL to provide as part of the DCO application process a robust justification for how it will increase its passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa – in other words, a clear and detailed justification of how the operational changes will have that effect and why the proposed development will not will be required. If this is not provided then the Authorities will raise this with GAL and the Secretary of State, as we did in responding to the Scoping Report. The Authorities will be interrogating GAL’s evidence on this. Furthermore, going forward Crawley Borough Council will also carefully scrutinise on a case-by-case basis any proposals to use permitted development rights to establish whether they fall within the scope of section 23.
4. “Review whether the main runway project is a material change of use requiring planning permission under sections 55 and 57 of the Planning Act 1990” – The Authorities do not consider the increase in passenger numbers from 46mppa to 61mppa to constitute a material change of use requiring planning permission under the 1990 Act.
5. “Terminate the current Section 106 agreement with Gatwick and negotiate a new agreement incorporating a cap” – The Authorities cannot compel GAL to enter into a new agreement incorporating a cap at the current time and there is clearly no commercial incentive on GAL to agree to such a cap. However, the Authorities will seek to negotiate a section 106 agreement as part of the DCO process and this may include reference to caps and other control measures on the number of passengers, flights or runways, linked to the capacity and likely significant environmental effects assessed as part of the EIA for the DCO.