Gas pipeline threat claim justifies costs award

A claim by a council in North Yorkshire that planning permission should not be granted for a single Gypsy pitch was rejected with a full award of costs being made in favour of the appellant.

he gas pipeline crossed the site at a depth of approximately one metre with a 12 metre easement strip on either side. In issuing an enforcement notice the council stated that occupation of the site was potentially hazardous to the wellbeing of the occupiers and moreover activities on site could damage the integrity of the pipeline itself. It drew attention to fencing, tree planting and fires which could cause damage to the structure.

An inspector placed weight on the fact that the Health and Safety Executive did not object to the scheme nor did the council’s environmental health officer. The latter concluded that it was very unlikely that damage to the pipeline would occur as a consequence of the appellant occupying the land. The appellant was aware of where the pipeline lay and it was unlikely that he would undertake any activities which might cause it to be damaged thereby leading to a gas leak.

In allowing the appeal a full award of costs was made against the council. The latter had referred to relevant policy guidance but had failed to provide cogent evidence as to why the appellant would carry out operations which could potentially damage the structure. The pipeline operator regularly monitored the line and reference to general activities which could be harmful to the pipeline did not take into account the particular circumstances of the case he decided.

Inspector: Keri Williams; Hearing

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