Council supported in requiring better than industry standards on coalfield gas emissions

The discharge of a condition requiring a detailed report of methane and carbon dioxide gas emissions at a site granted permission for 59 dwellings at a Northumberland coal field was refused for a failure to demonstrate that the health and safety of future residents of the development would be adequately protected.

The appellants had relied on their Phase 2 Ground Investigation Report to discharge the condition which concluded that no gas protection measures were necessary. They had provided no details of subsequent validation and verifications assessments specifically required by the condition’s wording but relied on gas monitoring to demonstrate the proposed floor construction would satisfy the recommendations of BS8485:2015 and consequently the condition. However, the council considered the gas monitoring was insufficient as it had only been carried out in the summer period which would have affected the average characteristic level of gas emissions. The appellants had monitored the gas situation for only two months, but the technical guidance had advised this was a minimum and that six months or more for sensitive developments such as housing might be appropriate. The council had maintained that in their experience gas emissions could be worse in winter months. The inspector sided with the council’s experience in these situations, which he held was a material consideration, and adopted a precautionary approach in refusing the submitted details. 

An award of costs against the council was refused. The inspector found the council had not acted unreasonably in requiring a report regarding gas emissions at the appeal site which went beyond industry standards set out in BS 8485, as their concerns were not vague or generalised but based on experience and specific research which substantiated their reason for refusal.

Inspector: Geoff Underwood; Written representations


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