R (Friends of the Earth) v SoS Transport [2019] EWHC 1070 (Admin)


One of five claims challenging the Airports National Policy Statement (ANPS), which gives policy support to a third runway at Heathrow, that were heard together by the Divisional Court. Friends of the Earth was the lead claimant presenting arguments relating to climate change. All five claims were dismissed.

In Friends of the Earth, the Court held, firstly, that the Secretary of State had discharged his duty under s.5(8) of the Planning Act 2008 to explain how the policy in the ANPS took account of Government policy on climate change. In doing so it confirmed that the compatibility of the runway with climate change has not been settled once and for all by the ANPS. Although permission was refused, this was an important result for the Claimant.

The Court then refused permission for Friends of the Earth’s claim that the Secretary of State was obliged by the more general wording of s.10(3) of the Planning Act 2008 to look further than current climate change targets enshrined in the Climate Change Act 2008. In particular, he was not required to consider the implications of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which set more stringent temperature goals than those that inform the emissions reduction targets in the Climate Change Act 2008.

Refusing permission on a further ground, the Court also held that the Secretary of State was not required to take account of the objectives of the Paris Agreement for the purposes of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Regulations.

Friends of the Earth has announced that it will seek permission to appeal.

Peter Lockley acted for Friends of the Earth, led by David Wolfe QC.