Last May we posted about a case relating to inconsistent EIA screening and planning conditions. That case has recently been overturned by the Court of Appeal.
As a reminder, the planning authority had decided that no EIA was necessary despite the application site being close to the River Wensum, due to a package of mitigation that was offered by the applicant, however when it granted consent it did so subject to a condition requiring the monitoring and, if necessary, restoration of water quality.
The High Court quashed the decision to grant consent subject to that condition on the basis that it was irrational and inconsistent with the screening decision.
The Court of Appeal has disagreed. It found that the screening process and the consideration of the application at committee were separate processes and nothing in the committee papers suggested that the condition was imposed because it was considered that there was a likelihood of diminution of water quality. It was not inconsistent or irrational to add the condition as a precautionary measure.
The Court also reminded us that the ‘necessary’ test for planning conditions was one of policy rather than a statutory requirement for their validity.
This decision is likely to be welcomed by planning authorities, although care must still be taken in the wording of conditions and the reasons expressed for their imposition.