Granting of planning permission stands for development of nuclear power station, despite environmental concerns


Re: Girling v East Suffolk Council [2020] EWHC 2579 (Admin)

In this case, the claimant asks for an order quashing the grant of planning permission for the development of a nuclear power station named Sizewell C, on the following two grounds:

  1. the Council unlawfully failed to consider the need for, and alternatives to, the proposal for the purposes of paragraph 172 of the National Planning Policy Framework, which states: –

“Consideration of applications should include an assessment of:

a) the need for development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;

b) the cost of, and scope for, developing outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and

c) any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.”

  1. the Council failed to reach a lawful conclusion that the environmental information was “up to date” contrary to regulation 26 of the Town and County Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017 No. 571) 

Held: the application for judicial review is dismissed.

In the circumstances of this case, where the Council was legally entitled to conclude that, viewed overall, there was no material harm to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but rather benefits to it. It is not accepted that the Council acted irrationally by not requiring a quantitative assessment of the time saving for the Sizewell C project or to consider that matter.

Furthermore, a “reasoned conclusion” of the authority is taken to be up to date if the authority judges that its conclusion addresses the likely significant environmental effects. Here the Council judged that the surveys relating to breeding birds were sufficiently reliable for present purposes. It is impossible to read the officer’s report as indicating that the Council was not satisfied that its “reasoned conclusion” under regulation 26(1) was up to date, whether in relation to the whole or any part of the environmental information.

David Wolfe QC was involved in this case.


Please find judgment here.