Gilbart J has handed down a detailed and important judgment in R (Dillner) v Sheffield City Council  EWHC 945 (Admin) relating to the circumstances in which a local authority may be required to consult residents on local matters, the requirement of a “fair” consultation where actually carried out, and the relevance of the EIA Directive to Public Finance Initiative Projects.
A Sheffield resident sought judicial review of decisions of Sheffield City Council as to the felling of trees on public highways across the whole city. Tree felling carried out by Amey Hallam Highways Limited was pursuant to a PFI contract with the Council to maintain and repair public highways. For a tree to be felled, it had to be one of the six “Ds”: dangerous, dead, diseased, dying, damaging or discriminatory. An Independent Tree Panel was in place to review controversial tree-felling proposals.
Following a rolled-up hearing Gilbart J gave a detailed judgment, but refused permission on all grounds, finding that the Claimant’s arguments were unarguable.
At an early stage of the proceedings the claimant had obtained without notice an interim injunction from Dove J prohibiting further works across the whole of Sheffield. Gilbart J discharged the interim injunction at the conclusion of the rolled-up hearing on 22-23 March. His later reserved judgment specifically deprecated the way in which the injunction had been obtained.
Tim Buley and Matthew Fraser acted for Amey Hallam Highways Limited, the Interested Party. Charles Banner acted for the Interested Party at an earlier stage in proceedings but was unavailable for the hearing.
The judgment is available here.