F-35 parts factory in Brighton put on hold by council after objections

  • Post last modified:March 5, 2024
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Brighton and Hove City Council has postponed a debate on a planning application by L3Harris weapons factory, which makes parts for Israel‘s F-35 war planes. It comes after activists and politicians applied pressure on the council.

Brighton: no F-35 death makers here, please

In a surprising turn of events, Brighton and Hove city council has deferred its discussion of L3 Harris’ planning application while further legal guidance is sought.

As the death toll from Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza reached 30,000, city councillors were set to face significant local opposition if they followed the guidance of officers and approved planning permission for a company manufacturing components for Israeli F-35s.

The agenda for the Planning Committee meeting on 6 March included the application from L3Harris Release and Integration Solution Ltd, Home Farm Road, Moulsecoomb, with the planning officer’s report recommending the committee grant permission.

This despite there being 600 objections on the planning portal, 130+ objections via a petition, and further objections submitted by several local councillors and two of the city’s three MPs – Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

Less than 24 hours after the meeting agenda was published on 27 February, the item on L3Harris was removed from the agenda and deferred to a future date.

Council seeking legal advice

The day after the officer’s report was published, legal advice was received that councillors can take into account the materiality of what L3 Harris makes (i.e. weapons components), even if they do not have to.

Therefore, if Planning Committee members say they would like to attach weight to the fact that the weapons will be used for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, they may do so.

Prior to the officer’s report being published, two resident academic experts provided the council with a briefing setting out the factual background about the company’s components being used in bombings of Gaza and also Yemen, and the legal background of the UK’s arms export licensing rules and the International Court of Justice ruling.

Lucas has pressed the government to publish the details of the reviews it says it has conducted of arms exports to Israel.

The next meeting of the Planning Committee is 3 April, but it is not yet clear whether this will be on the agenda.

If you live in the area, campaign group Brighton Against The Arms Trade has created a letter template you can use to write to our local councillor here. There is also a template for your MP here.

Featured image via Lockheed Martin – screengrab

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