High Court set to hear campaigners' NPPF legal challenge

Campaigners seeking to have the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) declared unlawful will have their case heard at the High Court tomorrow and said they expect a judgement to be issued by the end of January.

London's Royal Courts of Justice
London's Royal Courts of Justice

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth is challenging the government over its failure to conduct a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) while preparing the revised NPPF, which was published in July this year.

The group said it believes the lack of an SEA could mean the NPPF was adopted unlawfully.

It has said it wants the NPPF to be declared unlawful by the High Court but not quashed. 

Friends of the Earth said the hearing will last for one-and-a-half days and it expects a judgement to be issued in late January.

The group has raised concerns about NPPF policies including those indicating support for fracking projects, and wants to see stronger support for wind power and a ban on coal extraction.

"A strategic environmental assessment of the framework could help identify different approaches to better achieve the UK’s climate emission targets," the group said.

The case will mark the first time the NPPF has been challenged in its entirety.

Speaking earlier this year, Stuart Andrews, head of the national planning team at law firm Eversheds Sutherland, told Planning the case was an "extraordinary" move.

Legal experts have suggested that a declaration of unlawfulness could, in a practical sense, mean the revised NPPF would effectively be quashed.

Will Rundle, head of legal at Friends of the Earth, said: "The government’s national planning framework, which directs development in every single community in England, has never been environmentally assessed. This makes a mockery of the government’s green credentials and undermines sustainable development.

"In reality, the government simply does not know how much damage its national flagship planning policy could cause.

"The government’s failure to undertake any environmental assessment of its national planning policy, not only dangerously threatens our already warming climate and is, we believe unlawful, but shows contempt for people and planet."

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