In Bateman v South Cambridgeshire District Council, it was held that a flaw in a local planning authority’s consideration of an EIA application invalidated a grant of planning permission. In the case, the Court of Appeal held that a planning authority’s screening opinion (which concluded that the developer did not need to produce an Environmental Statement) was flawed.
The applicant asked if matters could be sorted after the event – and that a fresh screening opinion be adopted – but the Court did not allow this. The planning permission was quashed. The Court of Appeal noted that the adoption of a screening opinion, if one is required, is part of a process that leads eventually to the grant or refusal of planning permission. If any step in that process is legally flawed, the process as a whole is flawed and the grant of planning permission must be quashed.
So where did South Cambridgeshire Council go wrong? The local planning authority failed to demonstrate that it had considered the likely effect of the development in relation to traffic movements, the landscape and noise or, if it had, to explain why an EIA was not required in this case.
Critically, the reasons given for the negative screening opinion did not make it sufficiently clear why the planning officer had come to the conclusion which she had.