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R (Baker) v BANES (no.3) [2013] EWHC 946 (Admin)

DATE: 25 Apr 2013

 

This was a third judicial review concerning a controversial composting site near Keynsham. It had operated under a temporary planning permission since 1990 but by the time of the litigation this had expired.  An application to continue the life of the site was before the local planning authority: in relation to this the Secretary of State had made a positive screening direction.  The site continued to operate.  Officers imposed a deadline (13 February 2013) for the submission of an environmental statement, saying that if one was not provided, the authority would be obliged to refuse the application and to take enforcement action to close the site.  The applicant provided inadequate information.  However, instead of refusing planning permission the relevant Committee granted more time for the submission of an environmental statement.  These proceedings, which had been started before February 2013, became a challenge to the decision to allow more time.  The claimant, a local resident, contended that any failure to take enforcement action against continuation of unassessed EIA development was contrary to the EIA Directive.  This was rejected: the authority had power to give time for the submission of an environmental statement and its decision in the present case was reasonable (there were proper grounds for believing that the applicants would produce the missing information quickly).  The judgment confronts the dilemma facing planning authorities in this situation: if an enforcement notice is served and appealed the appellant will be given a further opportunity to submit an environmental statement by the Secretary of State under r25 of the EIA Regulations.  The submission of such a statement would have destroyed the basis for the enforcement action in this case. 

Richard Langham appeared for the local planning authority.