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ECJ dismisses EIA infraction against UK in Case C-199/04

DATE: 01 Feb 2007

The ECJ (Second Chamber) today dismissed infraction proceedings in Case C-199/04 (Castle Cement) brought by the Commission against the UK relating to the implementation of EIA and pollution controls on the basis that the Commission’s case lacked coherence and was inadmissible.

The Court held:

“22 Here, the Commission requests the Court to declare that the United Kingdom has failed to take all the measures necessary to ensure the complete and correct implementation of Articles 2 to 6, 8 and 9 of Directive 85/337.

23. In support of its action, the Commission puts forward two complaints: the first puts in issue sections 55 and 57 of the TCPA 1990 pursuant to which planning authorities use the nationally applicable test of 'material change in the use of any buildings or other land' when application is made for planning permission, having the effect, according to the Commission, of excluding certain projects from the field of application of Directive 85/337, while the second complaint alleges that, when Directive 85/337 was transposed into national law, the United Kingdom Government did not coordinate planning and pollution-control rules adequately so as to ensure compliance with all the obligations laid down in Articles 3 and 8 of that directive.

24. However, in its application the Commission expressly acknowledged that, by the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988 and the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999, the United Kingdom has adopted the necessary legislation to implement Directive 85/337 into domestic law.

25. Consequently, since the present action for failure to fulfil obligations is founded on contradictory arguments, it does not satisfy the requirements of coherence and precision referred to in paragraph 21 of this judgment.”

David Elvin QC and James Maurici represented the UK Government.