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Failure to include planning appeal in ‘Weekly List’ had serious implications for right of public participation in planning process

By: Ian Fitzharris BL

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High Court, in planning and development judicial review proceedings, quashes decision of planning board to grant planning permission, on appeal, for the development of a solar farm, on the grounds that: (1) the board's failure to include the fact of planning appeal then before it in its 'Weekly List' was a breach of planning regulations which could not be regarded as insubstantial given that it directly adversely impacted upon the right of public participation in the planning process as provided for in primary legislation; and (2) the board was not entitled to take into account certain 'CEMP' measures in carrying out a screening exercise for appropriate assessment in all of the circumstances of the case.

Judicial review - planning and development - decision to grant planning permission for development of solar farm - whether board acted ultra vires and in breach of planning regulations by failing to include notice of receipt of appeal of decision of county council in weekly board list in time - whether an absence of proper screening for environmental impact assessment - whether a failure to carry out an appropriate assessment or a proper screening for an appropriate assessment - weekly list - point in time when applicant became aware of appeal decision - whether weekly list regulatory requirements are mandatory or merely directory - use of word 'shall' important - strict time limit applicable to submissions by persons who are not parties to underlying planning process - very serious consequences if regulations deemed merely directory - failure to comply with weekly list requirements cannot be said to be insubstantial - right of public participation - no scope for application of de minimus principle - solar farm could not constitute 'industrial estate development project' to require an environmental impact assessment - inspector's report - court's approach - board not entitled to take into account CEMP measures in carrying out screening exercise for appropriate assessment - case against State respondents improperly pleaded as required by Order 84, rule 20(3) RSC - decision invalid and must be quashed

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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