Judge dismisses anthrax concerns over Greater Manchester homes approval

A claim that a Greater Manchester council should have carried out a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) to investigate the potential risk of anthrax contamination before it approved plans for 29 homes on a former industrial site has been dismissed by a High Court judge.

Herons Wharf at Appley Bridge was home to a factory making glue from animal bones and, later, a chemical works.

Earlier this year, Wigan Council granted planning permission for the homes on part of the site.
But objectors Steven Howard and Justine Bennett went to the High Court, insisting that approval should not have been given without a full EIA.

They said that the land was potentially contaminated with anthrax spores and other materials which could pose a serious risk to human health.

However, the council insisted that remediation works had already been carried out on the land and there was no evidence of a "significant" anthrax threat.

At the High Court, the objectors insisted that contamination of the site was "sufficiently serious and poorly understood" to make a full environmental assessment mandatory.

There was no guarantee that remediation works would be effective because the sources of the contamination and its full extent were not known, they claimed.

However, in dismissing the objectors' challenge, Mr Justice Supperstone noted that neither the Environment Agency nor any other statutory consultee had objected to the plans.

He concluded that the council's planning officers had given "specific attention" to the contamination risk, which they were well qualified to assess, and were entitled to conclude that any environmental effects would be insignificant and could be successfully mitigated.

Howard & Anr v Wigan Council. Case Number: CO/1407/2014

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