The local planning authority (LPA) granted a series of temporary permissions to Brighton and Hove Albion football club to allow the club to use a stadium owned by the council. Initial grants of permission were quashed because the LPA failed to properly assess the environmental impacts of the development.

A further permission was challenged by an adjoining residential owner. However, the Court of Appeal found that the LPA was entitled to conclude by its screening opinion that there were no significant environmental impacts arising from the proposed development, and that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not required.

The adjoining owner lodged a complaint against the United Kingdom in the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In the meantime, the LPA issued a further consent, which included permission for a small staff building. The adjoining owner commenced judicial review proceedings on the basis that the LPA had failed to consider the environmental effects of the development, had failed to put in place adequate mitigation measures and had not take account of the cumulative effects of the development.

The adjoining owner then sought to refer several questions to the ECJ. These were (i) whether a decision making authority must consider whether the development described in an application would be likely to have significant environmental effects; (ii) whether a decision making authority should consider measures to mitigate any environmental impacts identified in an EIA; and (iii) whether those measures could be taken into account even where their effect is uncertain or contentious, or where they would not be part of the development (off-site measures).

The High Court held that it was inappropriate for the questions to be referred to the ECJ. It was only necessary to make a referral if it was necessary to enable the court to give a judgment in the proceedings before it. That was not the case in the judicial review proceedings.

R (on the application of Catt) v Brighton and Hove City Council (1) and Brighton and Hove City Football Club (2)