Editor's pick: Council resists challenge to power plant consent

The High Court has rejected claims that that the grant of permission for a combined heat and power (CHP) plant on metropolitan open land in south London contravened the council's own planning policies, finding that a proper balancing exercise had been undertaken.

The scheme involved the conversion of a waste disposal facility to a CHP scheme in a regional park. A waste local plan safeguarded the site for waste management until 2023, after which it was to be returned to MOL and incorporated in the rest of the park. The claimant asserted that the council had erred in its interpretation of the local plan and failed to identify the very special circumstances required to permit the scheme, drawing particular attention to the temporary nature of the allocation. He also argued that the full environmental impact of the scheme had not been properly evaluated.

Mrs Justice Patterson concluded that the waste plan policies were clear in stating that existing sites were to be safeguarded in their current use or converted to waste management until 2023. In her view, council officers had considered the harm caused by inappropriateness along with any other harm and had been satisfied that very special circumstances had been demonstrated, including issues associated with extending the use of the site beyond 2023. This approach was unassailable in accordance with Redhill Aerodrome Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government [2014], she ruled.

A further claim that the council’s discretion had been fettered as a consequence of its dual role as planning and waste disposal authority was also rejected. The judge found that the council had taken care to ensure that elected representatives were informed of their different functions and had not been fettered when making a decision on the application. She noted that no pipes would be laid outside the red line boundary and any further piping required as part of a second phase would be subject to a further application, allowing its environmental impact to be assessed.

Khan v London Borough of Sutton & Viridor Waste (Thames) Ltd and Others;

Date: 6 November 2014; Ref: CO/1878/2014

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