Judicial review application of Green Belt decision refused

A claimant applied for review of a local authority’s decision to grant planning permission for Green Belt development involving aggregate extraction, subject to imposition of conditions and completion of an agreement under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The claimant argued that: in failing to require a further hydrological assessment before granting permission, the authority had breached the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011; the authority had failed to satisfy legal requirements in relation to the statutory development plan; the planning officer had approached Green Belt preservation incorrectly, on a mistaken understanding that ‘specific localised impacts’ could not result in a failure to preserve openness, and the report did not discuss whether proposed screening measures might harm Green Belt openness; the authority’s reliance on national air quality levels was unlawful, and it had not imposed adequate planning conditions to address the issue.

The judge concluded it was not necessary for all uncertainty to be resolved to achieve compliances. This case fell within the scope of the authority’s entitlement and obligation to exercise judgment on the adequacy of available information, and it was entitled to conclude that it had adequate information. The report referred to the relevant policies, and it could not be argued that the authority’s conclusion was unreasonable.

The judge stated that the report approached preservation correctly, taking a broader look at potential impacts rather than merely cataloguing specific impacts. Also, while the report did not question whether the screening measures might have a harmful impact, it plainly addressed the question of openness and concluded there was no material residual impact. There was no material error in its approach, and it was not arguable that the committee would have been materially misled.

The judge decided the evidence indicated that air pollution would be below national objective levels. There was no basis on which to speculate such levels might be damaging. The application was refused.

 

Picture Credit | iStock

 

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