Saturday, 31 March 2012

Thoughts on the Incinerator ruling

I have today read through the full judgement of the Appeal Court. It is very complex and references such things as “proportionality,” “legitimate expectations,” the “issue of the allocation of responsibility” and more.

Trying to keep it short, in October Judge Collins adjudicated that the Secretary of State had acted unfairly in relation to the European Habitats Directive and regulations made under it, and ruled that an “appropriate assessment” was necessary to assess the impact of the incinerator on nearby Special Areas of Conservation. He concluded:

“… the Habitats Directive and the Regulations are the law and must be obeyed … it is not suggested before me that the case put forward by the objectors can be disregarded as having no weight. There is an arguable issue. That being so, it would be a breach of the Habitats Regulations to fail properly to consider whether an appropriate assessment was needed.”

Sadly, the three judges of the Appeal Court took a different view and concocted a legal argument to reinstate the consent for the application. To be honest, I am struggling to understand how they came to the conclusion that they did. It does however seem almost a political decision.

I am also less than impressed that the Judges referred to the report of the Inspector at the original Planning Inquiry as “very lengthy and detailed” and a “comprehensive treatment of a wide range of issues.” I disagree. I consider the report to be biased and selective in what was used in it to inform the Inspector’s dubious conclusions.

Local campaigners are meeting to consider whether a further challenge is possible.

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