United Kingdom
Environmental Impact Assessments, Burden of Proof, Air pollution, Biodiversity, Evidence, Standing, Damages
On 7 July 2009, the Secretary of State gave a screening direction by which he stated that a development proposed by Churchill Retirement Living Ltd (was not likely to have "significant effects on the environment" for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999. It followed that the proposed development was not an Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") development and did not require the procedure under the 1999 Regulations to be followed before a planning permission could be granted. The present case is an appeal against a judgment dated 28 July 2011 whereby an application by Ms Loader ("the appellant") to quash this decision has been refused. refused The screening direction related to the proposed redevelopment of a previously developed site of 0.7ha, with no Green Belt/ AONB/SSSI/ protected species issues – and a development of 41 sheltered apartments, car parking, landscape and access, and a new outdoor bowls green, indoor rink, club facilities and car parking. The Court rejected the contention that EIA was required unless the decision-maker can exclude on the basis of objective evidence any real possibility of the effects being significant. The Inspectorate was entitled to conclude that the proposed redevelopment would not have significant effects on the environment. A checklist was completed and no complaint is made about its contents. Judgment was exercised and reasons given for the decision, which justify the conclusion reached. It may be added that the application for planning permission in this case did not involve the uncertainties which have presented difficulties of analysis in some of the cases considered. Moreover, judgment was exercised, not at the early stage of the procedure when such decisions are often made, but after full consideration of the planning issues by the local planning authority and also by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State. Full information as to the nature of the proposal and its likely effects was available.