Sir David King and Chris Packham support roads climate legal challenge in Court of Appeal

Photo opportunity – Tuesday 16 January at 1pm at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, WC2A 2LL

An important climate legal challenge against three major road schemes will be heard in the Court of Appeal [1] tomorrow, Tuesday 16 January 2024 at 10am. Broadcaster Chris Packham and Sir David King, the former government chief scientific advisor, are both supporting the legal challenge.

Supporters of Dr Boswell will be outside the Court at 1pm for a photo opportunity, with banners highlighting the climate emergency and road schemes around the country.

Dr Andrew Boswell is challenging the granting of development consent for three new, nationally significant road schemes in Norfolk, on the grounds of the Department for Transport’s and National Highways’ failure to properly consider the three schemes’ combined impacts on climate change [2]. If Dr Boswell is successful, the case could have serious implications for other major road schemes in the Government’s roads programme.

There are two other climate-focused legal challenges to the A38 Derby Junctions [3] and A57 Link Roads [4] schemes that are awaiting a decision on Dr Boswell’s Court of Appeal climate challenge. If Dr Boswell’s appeal succeeds, National Highways may have to reassess the carbon calculations for all their other road schemes, including the £10 billion Lower Thames Crossing which National Highways estimates will cause an extra 6.6 million tonnes of carbon emissions [5].

Dr Boswell first challenged the granting of development consent for the three schemes in the High Court in May 2023. Justice Thornton dismissed the challenges in July 2023, but Dr Boswell’s challenge was granted permission by the Court of Appeal on 18 October 2023 with the Judge noting that his case “has a real prospect of success” and acknowledging that “assessment of combined carbon emissions has potentially wide implications” [6]. Only the very strongest cases are granted permission to proceed to a full appeal hearing.

The challenge to the three A47 schemes in Norfolk, each part of the same road programme, centres on the failure of the Secretary of State for Transport and National Highways to properly assess the combined impact of the three schemes on climate change, instead only looking at each scheme in isolation.

Dr Andrew Boswell said:

“This case has wide implications for how ministers make decisions in the face of the rapidly worsening climate crisis. Government climate policies are failing, and especially for transport which is the UK’s largest carbon emitting sector. Each time a minister approves a new road scheme whilst stubbornly refusing to consider the full climate impacts, the national challenge of meeting our climate targets is severely undermined.”

The broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham sent his support to Dr Boswell, saying:

“Instead of rapidly reducing carbon emissions, the Government is instead driving them up with huge new road building projects. Dr Boswell is courageously challenging this unsustainable approach in the Court of Appeal by questioning the routine underestimating of the emissions caused by increasing traffic. I salute him and all those challenging Government climate policies in the courts”

The case is also supported by the former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, Professor Sir David King (now Founder & Chair, global Climate Crisis Advisory Group, CCAG) who, noting the severe flooding problems this winter across the UK, said:

“Climate change is with us now, and the impacts are getting worse on an annual basis. Funds need to be directed at developing flood defences based on the best available climate models setting out the detailed nature of these severe challenges to all of us. This requires that all decision making on infrastructure projects must be re-examined to see that investments today are fit for purpose over the coming decades. The three road schemes proposed on the A47 are examples of developments that ignore the reality of these impacts.”

Rupert Read, co-director of Climate Majority Project, said:

“The bottom-line is that UK transport plans quite obviously cumulate to blowing through our climate targets. As the subpostmasters have found, British justice may be slow but its eventual arc points towards truth – and (in this case, climate) justice!”

Dr Boswell is represented by David Wolfe KC, Peter Lockley and Ben Mitchell, instructed by Richard Buxton Solicitors [7].

Lewis Hadler of Richard Buxton Solicitors said:

“This is an important climate case that will have wider implications for the way in which cumulative carbon emissions are considered. Our client and the many people who have supported his case are right to expect proper scrutiny of this important aspect of the assessment of infrastructure projects and for the Government to be held to account for its commitments to address climate change.”

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors

[1] The case is to be heard by a panel of three Judges from 10am Tuesday 16 January 2024 at the Court of Appeal, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL.

[2] More information on Dr Boswell’s three legal cases can be found here: The UEA Law School have also recently made a podcast of Dr Boswell discussing the case with his lead Counsel David Wolfe, KC at

[3] More information on the legal challenge to the A38 Derby Junctions scheme can be found here: The Claimant for the A38 case will be at the hearing on 16 January and is available for interview.

[4] More information on the legal challenge to the A57 Link Roads scheme can be found here:

[5] National Highways have estimated the Lower Thames Crossing will increase carbon emissions by 6.6 million tonnes. See

[6] The Court Order by Lord Justice Coulson which granted permission for the Court of Appeal hearing can be viewed here:

[7] Richard Buxton Solicitors can be contacted for comment on and 01223 328933


Signing up will allow you to access our monthly newsletter and the latest actions and events