Council won't fight Bristol Airport expansion - but campaigners plan to take it to the High Court

Airport bosses want to increase capacity from 10 million to 12 million passengers Credit: PA

North Somerset Council has decided against taking legal action over the expansion of Bristol Airport - but campaigners say they will take the plans to the High Court.

Bristol Airport wants to expand its operation to cater for an extra two million passengers a year, with plans to make its terminal bigger, create a new multi-storey car park and improve bus routes.

The airport's expansion plans were given the go-ahead last month when the planning inspectorate overturned a decision by North Somerset Council to reject the proposal.

The council has today (March 15) confirmed it will not fight the expansion further but the Bristol Airport Action Network - known as BAAN - says it will go to the High Court to challenge the decision by inspectorate's decision.

Protestors gathered on College Green in Bristol in February following the decision by the Planning Inspectorate.

Stephen Clarke, from BAAN, said the expansion is "damaging" for both local people and the climate, adding it "simply cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged".

"The inspector's report dismissed the enormous increase of carbon emissions as an issue, stating the ‘climate was neutral in the planning balance’," he added.

"In this one sentence, they effectively ignored expert climate change science and the overwhelming extra carbon emissions caused by the expansion."

Legal challenge has 'high level of risk' - council

Despite initially opposing plans over its environmental impact, North Somerset Council says it will not be challenging the inspectorate's decision.

Council leader Don Davies said: "A legal challenge through the High Court can only be successful if the inspectors can be shown to have erred in law

"Unfortunately our disagreement with the inspectors' conclusions on the planning merits is not a relevant ground for challenge.

"The legal advice we've had is that pursuing a challenge would carry 'a high level of risk'.

"Not only would it incur significant further costs but, even if successful and the inspectors' decision was quashed, it is highly likely that on redetermination planning permission would simply be granted again."

However solicitors acting on behalf of BAAN says its legal team will issue papers to the High Court for a Statutory Appeal under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 today.