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Campaigner will take government to court over ‘failed’ Jet Zero strategy

A campaigner is set to take the government to court to challenge what he describes as its ‘failed’ strategy to make flying in the UK net zero by 2050.

Posted on 27 September 2022

The Jet Zero strategy was launched in July this year amid criticism from independent experts. The strategy rejects repeated advice from the government’s own experts, on the Climate Change Committee, to limit demand for flying. Instead, Jet Zero relies on new fuels and technologies which either do not currently exist or can’t be scaled up within the timescale left to reach net zero.

Nick Hodgkinson, on behalf of the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA), claims that the Jet Zero strategy is unlawful and, represented by law firm Leigh Day, he has written to the Secretary of State for Transport, launching his legal challenge. The pre-action protocol letter signals the start of the judicial review process, which Nick, with GALBA intends to pursue.

The legal letter says the following:

  • On 14 July 2021 the Department for Transport (DfT) published a consultation
    on its vision for the aviation sector to reach net zero aviation by 2050. This consultation ran until 8 September 2021.
  • On 21 March 2022 the DfT ran a further ‘technical’ consultation on its updated evidence and analysis to inform the different pathways to achieve net zero aviation by 2050. This consultation ran until 25 April 2022. The DfT confirmed that all responses to the further consultation would be considered alongside the responses to the original consultation.
  • GALBA responded to the consultations, highlighting a number of concerns with the DfT’s proposals, including the lack of demand management measures; the assumptions underpinning the DfT’s modelling; the reliance on unproven technology; the reliance on ‘offsetting’; and the failure to take into account non-CO2 emissions.

The grounds for the legal challenge include that:

  • The decision was in breach of the obligation under the Climate Change Act 2008 to gauge the likely effects of the individual recommended policies.
  • There was a failure to take into account the Climate Change Committee’s conclusions in its 2022 report to Parliament that the government’s plans for cutting aviation emissions were not enough to achieve net zero.
  • There was a failure to carry out a lawful consultation because the Secretary of State did not properly consider the responses to the consultations on the Jet Zero Strategy.

Nick, an active member of GALBA, said:

“By failing to make realistic plans to cut aviation emissions, the government has failed to take responsibility for the climate crisis. Instead of doing the safe and sensible thing, Jet Zero places all its bets on unproven or non-existent technology and gambles with everyone’s future. That’s a gamble we don’t need to take. The result of Jet Zero’s false techno-hopes will be a huge increase in flying and even bigger airports, causing more emissions, more noise and more pollution. The government urgently needs to look again at Jet Zero and come up with meaningful measures to control aviation and its emissions.

“This year has seen record high temperatures, which are the result of climate change. The science is crystal clear: we have to cut all emissions in half by 2030 to prevent catastrophic levels of global heating. We owe it to our children, grandchildren and people all over the world to make the right decisions today to protect everyone’s tomorrow.”

Leigh Day solicitor, environmental law specialist, Ricardo Gama said:

“The recklessness of the government’s approach to addressing aviation emissions in the Jet Zero Strategy has resulted in an approach which we consider is unlawful in a number of respects, including non-compliance with the government’s duties under the Climate Change Act. Our client hopes the government will urgently address these issues in a revised strategy. Failing that, a claim for judicial review will be unavoidable.”

GALBA is raising funds for the case.

Ricardo Gama November 2021
Climate change Environment Judicial review Planning

Ricardo Gama

Ricardo specialises in environmental claims and planning law

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