Case law >> Identical development ensures EIA compliance

6th December 2013

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Donald McQueen

Jen Hawkins from LexisPSL describes a High Court ruling that upheld a decision to grant planning permission for a housing development despite failure to screen plans

In Gibson v Harrow LBC and Parish of St George Headstone [2013] EWHC 3449, the High Court upheld planning permission for a housing development, despite the failure by the local authority to screen it.

In Gibson, four separate planning applications were made for a housing development; three were refused, but the fourth was granted permission.

Although permission was refused for the third application, it had undergone an environmental impact assessment (EIA) screening assessment and it was declared that the development did not require an EIA.

The fourth application was for an identical development, but without a previously identified defect in the planning obligation submitted with the application. The decision to grant permission was challenged on two main grounds: failure to screen the application; and failure to register the screening direction.

Reg 7 of the EIA Regulations (read together with reg 5) says a screening assessment should be carried out to determine whether an EIA is required. Although the fourth application for planning permission was new, it related to a development which, in its physical dimensions, characteristics and impact on the environment, was identical to the third application. Therefore, there was no obligation on the authority to carry out a further screening assessment.

Reg 23(1) requires a copy of a screening opinion to be placed on the planning register. The authority admitted it had failed to comply with this obligation. The court granted relief in respect of this breach because the failure to place the opinion on the register did not affect the decision to grant planning permission.


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