DC Casebook: Agricultural development - Nature site conditions held unreasonable

Natural England has secured the removal of two conditions imposed on a scheme in Cumbria after an inspector decided that the local authority had misunderstood the nature of the proposal.

The appeal site comprised a site of special scientific interest containing the largest area of active raised peat bog in England, which covered 780ha. Natural England proposed a series of small-scale engineering works designed to retain rainfall in the bog and stabilise the water table. Among other works, this would involve regrading some of the land around the intact peat and constructing small bunds to allow water to be assimilated.

The council had granted planning permission subject to a condition requiring submission of details of how a perimeter ditch would be maintained. It also required construction of part of one bund before what it assumed to be drainage works were implemented. Natural England pointed out that the perimeter ditch lay outside the appeal site and fell within a local landowner's property, so it had no control over its future maintenance.

The Environment Agency had been responsible for the ditch's upkeep until recently but had now given up those duties. The inspector agreed that it was inappropriate to require Natural England to be bound by the condition because it has no drainage responsibilities. The onus to maintain the ditch had reverted to the landowner and it would not be reasonable to transfer it to the agency, he ruled.

In respect of the proposed bund, he held that the scheme did not involve drainage works but aimed to retain more water in the bog. In his view, the basis of the condition was misconstrued because the bund was not intended to prevent flooding.

DCS Number 100-058-199

Inspector David Cullingford; Written representations

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