Outer House case considering an appeal by North Lanarkshire Council under s239 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.  It concerns a planning application by Shore Energy in respect of a waste management and renewable energy plant at Carnbroe near Coatbridge. The Council refused permission for the plant despite a recommendation by planning officials that the proposal be accepted. However, Shore Energy appealed to the Scottish Ministers against the refusal of planning permission. After an inquiry, reporters appointed by the Scottish Government granted planning permission subject to conditions. The Council then appealed to the court under s239.

The crux of the dispute was the relative weight given to local planning and environmental considerations, on the one hand, and national environmental objectives, on the other. The Council’s reasons for rejecting the proposals indicate that priority had been given to local considerations whereas the reporters’ decision had treated the national need as a material consideration and regarded local considerations as subordinate to it.

Lord Stewart noted that national policy had evolved after the planning application had been made and that a new policy was launched (without consultation as a “revised annex” to the Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan, 2010) the day before the inquiry. However, no issue was raised about the lawfulness of the policy. The matter for the court was whether the reporters’ understanding and application of the policy was sound and whether they had departed from it. In refusing the Council’s appeal Lord Stewart said:

“The meaning assigned to the new policy by the reporters as I understand it is that the need assessment area is, or at least that one of the relevant need assessment areas is, Scotland as a whole. The policy is quite capable of bearing this meaning. It was entirely reasonable for the reporters to treat national need as a material consideration and, in this case, as the determining consideration subject to any site-specific objections.”

The full judgement is available from Scottish Courts here.