Save Historic Newmarket v Forest Heath District Council and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Forest Heath District Council's Core Strategy proposed an urban extension of 1,200 dwellings to the north-east of Newmarket. Save Historic Newmarket challenged the core strategy on the basis that it was adopted in breach of the requirements of Directive 2001/42 and the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 (the "SEA Regulations"). They alleged that there had been a breach of the duty to provide environmental reports accompanying a draft plan or programme to explain what reasonable alternatives to the proposed policies have been considered and why they were rejected.

The court found that the strategy had been adopted in breach of Article 12(2) of the Directive. Environmental reports should be based on proper information and cover all the potential effects of the plan in question. Article 5 of the Directive further made it clear that those affected by the order should have an accurate picture of the reasonable alternatives to the policies proposed and why those alternative routes were not taken. It was acceptable to rule out alternatives prior to the environmental report being consulted upon, but the reasons for doing so had to both accompany the plan and still be valid. Equally, earlier material relied upon had to be identified in the report.