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John Litton QC

Call: 1989Silk: 2010
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Practice Summary

John was called to the Bar in 1989 and was a member of the Attorney General’s A Panel of Treasury Counsel for seven years before taking Silk in 2010. John’s highly regarded domestic practice is complemented by a successful international practice encompassing planning and commercial work. Click here for details on John’s international practice.

In the UK, John is a leading silk in the areas of town and country planning, environmental law, highways, compulsory purchase & compensation and administrative law. He also practices in a broad range of civil and commercial litigation matters including complex rating cases.

Chambers & Partners comments that John is “very, very astute, focused on the real commercial issues and a real problem solver” and a “very effective advocate, particularly in inquiries“. Legal 500 states that John “gives clear, confident advice at an early stage on the merits of a case”.

John regularly appears at public inquiries into development including housing, distribution warehousing, retail (food and non-food), town centre mixed use schemes, healthcare facilities, private householder development, purpose-built student accommodation, hotel development (including in the countryside), hostels, immigration appeal centres, football stadia, and motorway service areas.

His planning work also includes promoting infrastructure development such as strategic rail freight interchanges, renewable energy projects, guided busways, new roads and major highway improvement schemes. He advises on Development Consent Orders, development plans (including neighbourhood plans) and has recently appeared at numerous examinations in public. He has considerable experience across all aspects of planning enforcement.

John is an assistant editor of the Encyclopaedia of Planning Law and served for six years between 2000 and 2006 as the Treasurer of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association.

John’s recent work includes:

Residential Housing

  • Hazel Close – 2 week public inquiry representing developers for residential development on the edge of Crawley Down, Mid-Sussex (February 2017)
  • Fant Farm, Kent – 2 week public inquiry acting for Gleeson Developments Ltd for 225 dwellings on the edge of Maidstone (January 2017).
  • Crawley Down, Mid-Sussex – 2 week call-in/recovered public inquiry acting for Gleeson Developments Ltd developers for 2 alternative residential schemes (February 2017).
  • Yapton, West Sussex – 1 week public inquiry acting for Gleeson Developments Ltd for 108 dwellings (May 2017).
  • Keith Langmead v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2017] EWHC 788 (Admin) – represented claimant in challenge to refusal of permission for housing development (March 2017).
  • Hurstpierpoint, Mid-Sussex – 1 week public inquiry acting for Thakenham Homes for 81 dwellings (2014).
  • Yapton, West Sussex – 1 week public Inquiry acting for Gleeson Developments Ltd for 173 dwellings (2011).
  • Advising developers/land promoters including Gleeson Developments Ltd, Thakenham Homes, Persimmon Homes, Catesby Estates, Shanly Homes, Darcliffe Homes, Miller Homes, Welbeck Land.

Commercial

  • Green v South Downs National Park [2018] EWHC 604 (Admin) – represented interested party (PIG Hotels) in challenge to grant of planning permission for conversion of Grade II listed building from private dwelling to hotel in the South Downs National Park.
  • Motorway Service Area on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire – 3 month public inquiry acting for a promoter of a competing schemes for a new Motorway Service Area on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire (2009/2010).
  • Kent International Gateway, Kent – 1 month public inquiry for AXA REIM for a strategic rail freight interchange and national distribution centre (B8) (2008)
  • Hartland Park, Hampshire – 1 week public inquiry for Prudential Property Investment Managers for large distribution warehousing (B8) in Surrey (2007).
  • Greenham Common, Berkshire – 1 week public inquiry for Prologis for large distribution warehousing (B8) (2007).
  • Howbury Park, Dartford – 2 month public inquiry for Prologis for a strategic rail freight interchange and large distribution warehousing (October 2007).
  • Southend United Football Club, Essex – 2 week public inquiry for Southend Football Club for a new football stadium and enabling retail development.

Retail

  • Highams Park, Waltham Forest – 1 week public inquiry for food retail led mixed use scheme for Tesco Stores Ltd. (2007).
  • Dartford, Kent – 2 week public inquiry Tesco Stores Ltd. for retail and mixed use town centre re-development (2006).
  • Middlesbrough, Yorkshire – 1 week public inquiry for Tesco Stores Ltd. for an out of centre food superstore.
  • Newry Chamber of Commerce’s application for judicial review [2015] NIQB 65 – represented the landowner in a challenge to a planning permission for a large-scale retail-led in Newry, Northern Ireland.

Student accommodation

  • Leicester – 1 week public inquiry for CODE Student Accommodation for purpose built student accommodation blocks (279 flats) in Leicester (2016).

Local/Neighbourhood Plans

  • Cappagh Public Works Limted v London Borough of Sutton (2018) (unreported) – represented Prologis as the interested party in a challenge to the Sutton Local Plan.
  • Forest Heath Single Issue Review and Site allocation Local Plan – Examination in Public representing the Newbury Horseman’s Group in relation to the allocation of Hatchfield Farm for housing development (2018).
  • Wycombe District Local Plan – Examination in Public representing Catesby Estates plc in relation to the allocation of Hollands Farm for housing development (2018).
  • Winslow, Buckinghamshire – Neighbourhood Plan Examination hearing (2015).

Enforcement

  • Tower Bridge Hotel, London – 1 week public inquiry for Grange Hotels appealing against an enforcement notice (2012).
  • Advice on a range of enforcement matters including enforcement notices, stop notices (including temporary stop notices) and injunctions.

Development Consent Orders (DCOs)

  • R (oao Williams) v Secretary of State [2015] EWHC 1202 (Admin) – represented RWE Innogy in a challenge to the Clocaenog Forest Wind Farm DCO.
  • Advising Highways England at the pre-submission stage of the A303 Amesbury – Berwick Down DCO.

CPO

  • Northern Line Extension – acted for Banham Patent Locks Ltd. objecting to the Northern Line Extension Transport and Works Act Order at the Public Inquiry and subsequent compensation claim resulting in a multi-million pound settlement (2013 – 2018).
  • Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1) compensation claims.
  • Liverpool Housing Market Renewal CPO Inquiries (2006 & 2008).

Highways

  • Windrush, Oxfordshire – public footpath diversion order public inquiry (2015).
  • Pewsey, Wiltshire – public footpath diversion order public inquiry (2014).
  • Public Inquiries for the Highways Agency in relation to J.13 of the M4/A34, the A2, the A21 and the A14 (2000 – 2010).

Energy/Renewables

  • Coedbach Action Team Ltd v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change [2010] EWCA Civ 1494 – represented Helius Energy in a challenge to a consent for the construction/operation of a biomass power station.
  • R (RWE Innogy UK Ltd.) v Secretary of State – represented RWE Innogy challenging the refusal of consent for a wind farm at the Carnedd Wen, Powys, Wales (2015).
  • R (Peter Higham) v Cornwall Council [2015] EWHC 2191 – represented Clean Earth Energy Wind Investments (Admin) in a challenge to the grant of planning permission for a wind farm (2015).
  • Aylesbury Vale – public inquiry (call-in) into onshore wind turbine development (2015).
  • Shepton Mallet – public inquiry (call-in) into onshore wind turbine development (2015).
  • North/South Interconnector – represented the Department of Infrastructure at the public inquiries into the 400Kv overhead electricity line connecting the electricity grids of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (2012, 2017)
  • Barlow v Secretary of State [2019] EWHC 146 QB – represented INEOS in a challenge to the grant of planning permission for a fracking test well.

In addition to public inquiries, John frequently appears in the higher courts in England & Wales (including the Upper Tribunal), Northern Ireland, Hong Kong (including the Lands Tribunal and Town Planning Appeal Board), the Cayman Islands and the BVI. He is called to the Bar in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, the Supreme Court of the Eastern Caribbean (British Virgin Islands) and appears by ad hoc admission in the Grand Court and Court of Appeal in the Cayman Islands.

He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an Associate Member of the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators.

Town & Country Planning, Highways and Environmental Law

John has appeared at public inquiries into development including retail (food and non-food), town centre mixed use schemes, healthcare facilities, private householder development, housing, purpose built student accommodation, hotel development (including in the countryside), hostels, immigration appeal centres, football stadia, distribution warehousing and motorway service areas.

His planning work also includes promoting infrastructure development such as strategic rail freight interchanges, renewable energy projects, guided bus ways, new roads and major highway improvement schemes. He advises on Development Consent Orders, development plans (including neighbourhood plans) and appears at examinations in public. He has considerable experience in all aspects of planning enforcement.

He has advised on a range of environmental issues including the revocation of greenhouse gas emissions permits, waste and pollution control. He frequently advises on the European Directives and UK Regulations relating to environmental impact assessment, strategic environmental assessment and habitats assessments.

John’s work includes acting for developers at long public inquiries including large distribution warehouses and strategic rail freight interchanges. He has also promoted a number of major road improvement schemes for the Highways England (formerly Highways Agency) including the M4, A2, A21 and A14. He advised on the environmental appraisal aspects of the nuclear National Policy Statement. He recently advised Highways England in relation to proposals to upgrade the A303. He has advised in relation to the registration of village greens and appeared at non-statutory village green inquiries. He advises on and appears at footpath diversion inquiries. Much of his current planning work relates to housing development.

For further information on John’s planning work, highways and environmental law work and examples of cases/ further information please click on the cases tab.

Recent Cases: Town & Country Planning, Highways and Environmental Law

R (Norwich Livestock Market Ltd) v Norwich City Council [2018] EWHC 648 – a challenge to the decision of Norwich City Council to sell land on which a cattle market had been operated for many years under the Norwich City Council Act 1984. The Court held that the Council was in breach on sections 4 and 8 of the Act. John acted for the successful claimant.

Western Road – 1 week public inquiry representing developers for purpose built student accommodation blocks in Leicester (June & September 2016)

Fant Farm – 2 week public inquiry representing developers for residential development on the edge of Maidstone, Kent (January 2017)

Hazel Close – 2 week public inquiry representing developers for residential development on the edge of Crawley Down, Mid-Sussex (February 2017).

North-South Interconnector – represented the Department of Infrastructure (Northern Ireland) at a public inquiry before the Northern Ireland Planning Appeals Commission in relation to an application for a proposed 400kV overhead electricity line connecting the electricity grids of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (February 2017).

Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

John advises on all matters relating to compulsory purchase and compensation including the Critchel Down rules. He promotes compulsory purchase orders through public inquires, including orders for mixed town centre developments, housing market renewal schemes and highway schemes. He appears in the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) in relation to compensation issues arising out of the compulsory acquisition of land.

His compulsory purchase and compensation work includes appearing at CPO inquiries on behalf of promoters and objectors. He represented the local authority and Tesco to acquire land for development including a superstore and on behalf of Liverpool City Council acquiring land as part of the Government’s housing market renewal programme. He has also advised in relation to compensation claims arising out of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1) and the acquisition of wharf facilities in Medway.

John’s recent work includes:

  • Advising a landowner affected by the proposed Northern Line Extension from Kennington to Battersea.
  • Northern Line Extension – acted for Banham Patent Locks Ltd. objecting to the Northern Line Extension Transport and Works Act Order at the Public Inquiry and subsequent compensation claim resulting in a multi-million pound settlement (2013 – 2018).
  • Channel Tunnel Rail Link (HS1) compensation claims.
  • Liverpool Housing Market Renewal CPO Inquiries (2006 & 2008).

For further information on John’s compulsory purchase and compensation work and examples of cases/further information please visit the cases section.

Administrative Law

As a member of the Attorney General’s A Panel of Treasury Council, John appeared on behalf of the Government in numerous statutory challenges and claims for judicial review in the planning, environmental, compulsory purchase, other administrative fields and human rights in addition to acting for clients from the private sector. He has enormous experience in High Court public law litigation in these and other administrative law matters. He has been appointed as an amicus in the High Court and Court of Appeal a number of times.

Recent Administrative Law cases

Keith Langmead v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – 2 day High Court acting for the landowner challenging the Secretary of State’s recovered decision to refuse planning permission for housing development (March 2017).

Newry Chamber of Commerce’s application for judicial review 
Judicial review challenge to a planning permission for a large-scale retail-led redevelopment, raising issues under the Habitats Directive, the EIA Directive and the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (2015).

R. (on the application of Williams) v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change – challenge to a Development Consent Order for substantial windfarm development in North Wales (2015).

Gleeson Developments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors – Judicial review of Secretary of State’s decision to withdraw planning permission after it had been issued (2014).

For further information on John’s administrative law work and examples of cases/further information please visit the cases section.

International Law

John’s work in Hong Kong, Cayman Islands and the BVI encompasses a broad range of civil matters including commercial litigation, judicial review, town planning and rating.

Recent Cases in Hong Kong

CLP Power Hong Kong Ltd v Commissioner of Rating and Valuation – John represented CLP in the Court of Final Appeal (and earlier in the Lands Tribunal and Court of Appeal) in relation to its rating appeal including the construction of s.8 & 8A Rating Ordinance (February 2017).

Town Planning Board v Town Planning Appeal Board – John acted for the TPB  in the Court of Final Appeal on the construction of s.16 of the Town Planning Ordinance and jurisdiction of the Town Planning Board to review its decision under s. 17 in relation to an application to fulfil planning conditions (January 2017).

Mayer Corporation Development Limited v Alliance Financial Intelligence Limited  (HCCL 2/2016) – John  acted for the applicant in the Court of First Instance on an application to strike out an action seeking to set aside judgments allegedly obtained by fraud (November 2016).

Jonnex International Ltd. v Town Planning Board (HCAL 130/2015) – John acted for the TPB in the Court of First Instance on an application for judicial review seeking to challenge a decision refusing to modify the Sai Ying Pun & Sheung Wan Outline Zoning Plan (September 2016).

Song Lian Zhong v Chan Sze Wai HCA 277/2013 – John acted for the plaintiffs in the Court of First Instance in a 3 week trail for fraudulent misrepresentation (July/August 2016).

Recent Cases in the Cayman Islands & BVI

China Energy Development Holdings Ltd v Totalbuild Investments Holdings Group Ltd (Cause No. G0094/2015) and Energy International Investments Holdings Ltd v China International Energy Investments (Hong Kong) Ltd (Cause No. G0112/2015) (2014 – 2016) – John acts for the plaintiffs in two claims relating to breaches of warranty and misrepresentation arising out of cooperation agreements entered into with China National Petroleum Company for the exploitation of mineral resources in China. There have been a number of interlocutory proceedings and hearings for injunctions, service out of the jurisdiction, substituted service and discovery of documents. Trials likely in 2017/2018 (Cayman Islands).

Lai Yueh-Hsing v Mayer Holdings Limited (FSD86/2014) (2013 – 2014) – creditors winding up petition. The proceedings include an application for appointment of interim receivers, the hearing of the petition and an appeal to the Cayman Court of Appeal (Cayman Islands).

Li En Qiang v Nova Direct Investment Ltd (2016) – claim for the recovery of proceeds of redemption and remaining shares in an investment fund against a BVI company. Application challenging to Court’s jurisdiction (BVI).

China NTG Investments Ltd v Great River Corporation (2014) – proceedings for the appointment of an interim receiver and an application for a stay of proceedings (BVI).

Other

In addition to his core areas, John has recently acted for local authorities in relation to negligence claims, including Wooldridge v Torridge District Council. He has advised on nuisance claims relating to Japanese Knotweed. John also advises on planning related property issues including restrictive covenants and easements and has considerable experience in mass trespass litigation.

Qualifications

John Litton was awarded an LLB (2:1) from Southampton University (1988). Initially appointed to the “B” of Treasury Counsel in 1999, he was appointed to the “A” in 2004 and re-appointed to that Panel in 2009 until he took silk in 2010. He served for 6 years (2000 – 2006) as the Treasurer of the Planning and Environmental Bar Association.

Inquiries

Proposed new Motorway Service Area on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire

02/11/2010

This public inquiry, which commenced on 2nd November 2010 and is scheduled to last until February 2011, will hear evidence on whether there is a need for a new MSA (including the views of the Highways Agency, who consider that there is a need, and objections from Harrogate Borough Council and Moto Hospitality Ltd, who operate other MSAs in the region) as well as evidence on the four competing proposals for the location of the new MSA in the event that a need is established.

Four of the eight parties at the inquiry are represented by members of Landmark:

John Litton QC is appearing on behalf of Jaytee Rainton Ltd, the promoters of a proposed new MSA at Baldersby Junction (instructed by DPP).

Charles Banner is appearing on behalf of Heather Ive Associates, the promoters of a proposed new MSA at Kirby Hill (instructed by Marrons LLP).

Robert Walton is appearing on behalf of Harrogate Borough Council, the local planning authority.

Guy Williams is appearing on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, the local highway authority.

 

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Inquiries

Kent International Gateway – strategic rail freight interchange and national distribution centre

01/01/2009

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Inquiries

Hanwell Locks

01/06/2008

June 2008 – Public Inquiry. Mixed use development (principally housing) on allocated industrial site in Ealing. Permission refused on design grounds but Secretary of State accepted the principle of the site being used for non-industrial purposes.

Important because Secretary of State accepted that land allocated in the UDP for industrial purposes could be released for housing.

Planning Perspectives (Peter Edwards)

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Inquiries

Hartland Park – large distribution warehousing in strategic gap

01/01/2008

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Inquiries

Greenham Common – large distribution warehousing

01/01/2008

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Inquiries

Gilead Street CPO

01/01/2008

January 2008 – Public Inquiry. CPO for 175 units mixed tenure housing scheme in Liverpool NewHeartlands Pathfinder Area. Part of the ongoing and very significant investment being made in the regeneration of Liverpool. Secretary of State’s decision awaited.

Important because it is the latest in a series of CPOs promoted by Liverpool City Council as part of the Government’s HMRI programme for restructuring housing markets in Pathfinder Areas.

Liverpool City Council (Steve Culkin)

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Inquiries

Howbury Park

01/12/2007

May 2007 – Public Inquiry. Development proposal was for a Strategic Railfreight Interchange comprising 198,000 sqm of rail connected warehousing and a multi-modal interchange requiring 60ha of the Greenbelt between Dartford and Bexley. The Secretary of State granted permission in December 2007.

Important because of the size of the development that has been allowed in the Green Belt and it is the first of 3 – 4 Strategic Railfreight Interchanges to serve London.

Marrons Solicitors (Morag Thomson)

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Inquiries

Southend United Football Club

01/10/2007

September 2007 – Public Inquiry. Development was for a new 23,000 seat football stadium + retail + housing on an out of centre site and partially in the Green Belt. Secretary of State’s decision awaited.

Important because of its size, location and regenerative effects for Southend.

Decherts Solicitors (Justin True)

 

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Inquiries

Highams Park – food retail led mixed use scheme

01/01/2007

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Inquiries

Liverpool HMRI CPOs inquiry

01/07/2006

Liverpool City Council is promoting CPOs into initial phases of its Pathfinder/HMRI neighbourhood renewal areas in the Anfield, Edge Hill and Picton areas of the Inner Core of Liverpool.

 

The inquiry began on 4 July and is expected to complete on 28 July.

David Elvin QC and John Litton are appearing on behalf of the City Council.

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Inquiries

Guildford – town centre redevelopment CPO

01/01/2006

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Inquiries

Dartford – retail and mixed use town centre re-development

01/01/2006

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Inquiries

Middlesbrough – superstore development

01/01/2005

:

Inquiries

Proposed new Motorway Service Area on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire

02/11/2010

This public inquiry, which commenced on 2nd November 2010 and is scheduled to last until February 2011, will hear evidence on whether there is a need for a new MSA (including the views of the Highways Agency, who consider that there is a need, and objections from Harrogate Borough Council and Moto Hospitality Ltd, who operate other MSAs in the region) as well as evidence on the four competing proposals for the location of the new MSA in the event that a need is established.

Four of the eight parties at the inquiry are represented by members of Landmark:

John Litton QC is appearing on behalf of Jaytee Rainton Ltd, the promoters of a proposed new MSA at Baldersby Junction (instructed by DPP).

Charles Banner is appearing on behalf of Heather Ive Associates, the promoters of a proposed new MSA at Kirby Hill (instructed by Marrons LLP).

Robert Walton is appearing on behalf of Harrogate Borough Council, the local planning authority.

Guy Williams is appearing on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, the local highway authority.

 

:

Inquiries

Kent International Gateway – strategic rail freight interchange and national distribution centre

01/01/2009

:

Inquiries

Hanwell Locks

01/06/2008

June 2008 – Public Inquiry. Mixed use development (principally housing) on allocated industrial site in Ealing. Permission refused on design grounds but Secretary of State accepted the principle of the site being used for non-industrial purposes.

Important because Secretary of State accepted that land allocated in the UDP for industrial purposes could be released for housing.

Planning Perspectives (Peter Edwards)

:

Inquiries

Hartland Park – large distribution warehousing in strategic gap

01/01/2008

:

Inquiries

Greenham Common – large distribution warehousing

01/01/2008

:

Inquiries

Gilead Street CPO

01/01/2008

January 2008 – Public Inquiry. CPO for 175 units mixed tenure housing scheme in Liverpool NewHeartlands Pathfinder Area. Part of the ongoing and very significant investment being made in the regeneration of Liverpool. Secretary of State’s decision awaited.

Important because it is the latest in a series of CPOs promoted by Liverpool City Council as part of the Government’s HMRI programme for restructuring housing markets in Pathfinder Areas.

Liverpool City Council (Steve Culkin)

:

Inquiries

Howbury Park

01/12/2007

May 2007 – Public Inquiry. Development proposal was for a Strategic Railfreight Interchange comprising 198,000 sqm of rail connected warehousing and a multi-modal interchange requiring 60ha of the Greenbelt between Dartford and Bexley. The Secretary of State granted permission in December 2007.

Important because of the size of the development that has been allowed in the Green Belt and it is the first of 3 – 4 Strategic Railfreight Interchanges to serve London.

Marrons Solicitors (Morag Thomson)

:

Inquiries

Southend United Football Club

01/10/2007

September 2007 – Public Inquiry. Development was for a new 23,000 seat football stadium + retail + housing on an out of centre site and partially in the Green Belt. Secretary of State’s decision awaited.

Important because of its size, location and regenerative effects for Southend.

Decherts Solicitors (Justin True)

 

:

Inquiries

Highams Park – food retail led mixed use scheme

01/01/2007

:

Inquiries

Liverpool HMRI CPOs inquiry

01/07/2006

Liverpool City Council is promoting CPOs into initial phases of its Pathfinder/HMRI neighbourhood renewal areas in the Anfield, Edge Hill and Picton areas of the Inner Core of Liverpool.

 

The inquiry began on 4 July and is expected to complete on 28 July.

David Elvin QC and John Litton are appearing on behalf of the City Council.

:

Inquiries

Guildford – town centre redevelopment CPO

01/01/2006

:

Inquiries

Dartford – retail and mixed use town centre re-development

01/01/2006

:

Inquiries

Middlesbrough – superstore development

01/01/2005

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