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Environmentalist group seeks judicial review of national planning policy

Words: Huw Morris
Strategic Environment Assessment / iStock-636510424

The Friends of the Earth campaign group is launching a major legal challenge to the government’s national planning policy.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has asked the High Court for an expedited hearing for a judicial review of the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) unveiled in July.

The group is challenging the NPPF, saying the government failed to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which is required under European legislation whenever policies and plans are likely to have a big impact on the environment.

FoE’s head of legal William Rundle said the intention is to force the government to carry out an SEA, consult the public and alter the NPPF accordingly rather than to quash the whole document.

“The planning system hinges on this document,” he told The Planner. “They didn’t screen or scope its implications and didn’t carry out an SEA anyway. This is about dictating how the planning system works rather than making it integrated and taking into account people’s concerns,

“The NPPF hinges on the concept of the presumption in favour of sustainable development, but how can they say that if they have not assessed it for sustainability?”

The group is asking the High Court for an expedited hearing of the NPPF as a significant planning case. If it succeeds, a hearing could take place early next year.

The government has so far not responded to FoE’s claim.

Image credit | iStock