Setback for Cammell Laird windfarm servicing business on Merseyside
In a judgment published on 6 May 2016, the Planning Court of the High Court of Justice quashed a decision of the Planning Inspector to allow planning permission for the development by Cammell Laird of an on-shore office and warehouse building to serve as a marine operations and maintenance facility for windfarms in Liverpool Bay and on the Irish Sea.
The Claimants, representing businesses and residents in the locality of the development, including a charter boat operator, argued that the Planning Inspector erred on a number of grounds, including the adverse impact the development would have on disabled persons due to loss of riverside amenity and the fact that there was an alternative available site.
Among the arguments heard by the Court was the loss of amenity that would arise with the building over of a car park adjacent to the River Mersey in Birkenhead. The evidence before the Inspector was that public access to the Mersey from Birkenhead is very limited and that the development site is the only place in the area where public parking next to the river is readily available. As the proposed development would have been built on the car park, visitors would no longer be able to drive and park by the riverside, which would impact particularly on disabled people.
The decision of the Planning Court reflects the wide powers granted to the High Court under s288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to quash the decision of a Planning Inspector where there are legitimate grounds for challenging an Inspector’s decision.
The offshore windfarm servicing industry is a vital one for the upkeep and maintenance of windfarms supplying the UK energy market and therefore a significant element in maintaining the security of the country’s renewable energy supplies. Nevertheless, this decision of the Planning Court demonstrates that local amenity, and particular riverside access to the general public, can be a determining factor even in localities where riverside industry has a long history.
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