Environmental Bulletin: Supreme Court refuses to quash planning permission

Supreme Court refuses to quash planning permission despite wrongful failure to require EIA:

R (on the application of Champion) v North Norfolk District Council

In judicial review, it has long been established that the court does not have to grant relief in every case where it finds a failing in the decision making process. By way of example, a planning permission may not be quashed if the court considers that the planning decision would have been the same regardless of the error.

In July 2015, in the case of R (on the application of Champion) v North Norfolk District Council, the Supreme Court sought to "lay down clearer guidance as to the circumstances in which relief may be refused even where an irregularity has been established".

In 2011, North Norfolk District Council granted planning permission for two silos and a lorry park at a site close to the River Wensum, which is in a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The Council had not required an Appropriate Assessment of the effects of the development on the SAC for the purposes of the Habitats Directive and gave a screening opinion that Environmental Impact Assessment was not necessary.

As to EIA screening, in giving its decision the Supreme Court reiterated, first, that

Local planning authorities should, in principle,adopt a screening opinion early in the planning process; and

A negative screening opinion may need to be reviewed in the light of later information.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.