United Kingdom
Environmental Impact Assessments, Air pollution, Evidence, Wildlife, Jurisdiction, Property
The High Court has rejected a residents group challenge to a planning permission for the redevelopment of an Essex golf course owned by a district council. The scheme involved remodelling and entailed the deposition of some 120,000 tons of inert waste. The council had produced a screening opinion that the scheme did not require an EIA but the claimants argued that this was faulty and based on inadequate information. They also argued that the county council should have determined the planning application. It was ruled that the council had considered all aspects of the proposed development when reaching its decision as to the need for an EIA, and the fact that the opinion had contained an error as to the amount of waste was not conclusive. In addition the council was not under any duty to reconsider its screening opinion in the light of a consultation response from Natural England . The court also felt that the council did address its mind to the matter of whether the county council should determine the application, and having decided that the application did not involve a county matter was under no obligation to further consult. The Judge held that a local planning authority did have the power having issued a negative screening decision to subsequently determine that the development was nonetheless EIA development. However, the adoption of a further screening opinion was dependent upon a request from a proposed developer. There was no power for a local planning authority (unlike the Secretary of State) to consider such matters of their own motion. Accordingly, a local planning authority is not under a duty to revisit an opinion in the light of new information.