The recent case of Mageean v The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Others (2011), concerned a negative screening direction by the Secretary of State. This direction was four and a half-years-old by the time a planning application (for wind turbines) was submitted and over six-years-old when an appeal against refusal of planning permission was finally allowed.
The screening issue was a critical one. Between the screening direction and submission of the planning application, parts of a nearby landscape were designated a World Heritage Site. In the High Court, objectors to the scheme successfully applied for the appeal decision to be quashed; the court held that the Planning Inspectorate should have considered whether or not the screening opinion should be reconsidered, given the change in circumstances. However, the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court's decision. First, it held that as the Inspector's report made it clear that there was no detrimental impact on the World Heritage Site, there was little prospect that an alternative screening direction would have been given. Second, during the planning appeal process the Inspector had not been asked to consider whether the screening opinion should be revisited.