This case is not directly water-related but the approach to SPA protection is nevertheless of some relevance. It concerned a development to be located 1.4 kilometres travel distance and approximately 990 metres linear distance from a section of the Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area (TBHSPA). The TBHSPA has been the subject of a previous court case (R (on the application of Hart District Council) v SoS for DCLG (2008)) and many planning appeals. So much so that the Planning Inspectorate has issued a document to its inspectors on dealing with housing and delivery in the South East and the TBHSPA, as it is having to deal with an increasing number of appeals because LPAs are refusing planning permission partly due to representations from English Nature following statutory consultation.

The developer, Millgate Developments Ltd (Claimant) challenged the inspector’s finding that by failing to make provision for any SANGS (suitable alternative natural green spaces), the Development could, in combination with other plans and projects, have a significant adverse effect on the integrity of the TBHSPA. Mr Justice Sullivan dismissed the application on the basis that the only open space relied upon by the claimants was not included in the final list of SANGS in the SPD (for reasons given in the SPD) and the other SANGS were not close to the appeal site as the SPA. The inspector was therefore entitled to attach little weight to the Edgebarrow Hill SANGS.

Millgate Developments Ltd v SoS for Communities and Local Government and another [2008] ALL ER(D) 177 (Jul)