The Climate Constitutionalism of the UK Supreme Court

9 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2021

Date Written: March 19, 2021


This note, forthcoming in the Journal of Environmental Law (2021), considers the recent (16 Dec 2020) decision of the UK Supreme Court in respect of the planned expansion of Heathrow airport. The Court rejected the contention of the eNGO applicant, Plan B, that the decision maker acted unlawfully in granting permission for a new third runway. The note is part of a series of comments on the case - the others from the perspectives of planning and administrative law. The approach herein is from the perspective of climate law, and in particular constitutional principle. It argues that the Supreme Court was correct to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal, in a manner consistent with the political constitution. In so doing the Court handed back the decision on the third runway to an expert limb of public administration (the Planning Inspectorate) established by statute (Planning Act 2008), rather than letting the matter be settled by a court.

Keywords: Heathrow decision; climate constitutionalism; aviation and climate law; climate litigation

Suggested Citation

Ghaleigh, Navraj Singh, The Climate Constitutionalism of the UK Supreme Court (March 19, 2021). Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/07, Available at SSRN: or

Navraj Singh Ghaleigh (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics