Judicial review dismisses challenge to liner terminal

30th September 2016

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Parminder Plahe

The High Court has dismissed a challenge to the planning permission granted for a proposed cruise liner terminal on the River Thames in south-east London.

The claimant had sought to quash the permission granted last year by the Royal Borough of Greenwich for the terminal at Enderby wharf on several grounds relating to air quality. Consent had been granted in 2012 but went unchallenged.

However, in March 2015 the developers submitted a revised proposal, including replacing a planned hotel with residential buildings and an 81% increase in the size of a the terminal building.

The claimant objected to the new plans, alleging that, in granting permission, the council had failed to consider properly the impact on air quality.

Permission for a judicial review was refused on paper but granted after an oral hearing. It was limited to ‘that the defendant’s decision was (arguably) unlawful by the failure to require, or take into account the need for, an assessment of the total cumulative and combined effects on air quality that included the effects of the ship emissions’.

Justice Collins reviewed air quality reports and statements submitted with the planning application and was satisfied that the earlier decision was not unlawful.

He added that, even if an error had been found and he had exercised his discretion, he would have still refused relief and would not have quashed the planning decision.

He referred in his decision to the environmental statement, which noted: ‘Predictions of NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 concentrations at existing receptors in the vicinity of the proposed development and local road network have shown that there would be low and very low changes in pollutant concentrations between “Without Development” and “With Development” scenarios.

The impact of the additional emissions from road sources at Enderby wharf during operation of the proposed development to sensitive receptors is therefore considered to be negligible.’

Danny Thorpe, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for regeneration and sustainability, welcomed the ruling and pointed out that permission for the revised plans had been endorsed by Boris Johnson when mayor of London: ‘At the time of the planning decision in 2015, the mayor’s office confirmed that it was satisfied with measures put in place by the council to ensure robust monitoring of air quality associated with the development, with nearly £500,000 being committed towards monitoring and improving air quality.’

Before granting consent, the council had asked for more information on the potential environmental impacts and ordered the EIA to consider several issues not included in the scoping report. In a letter to planning consultancy bptw partnership, the council listed these as site layout and design, noise, air quality, lighting, transport and access.

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