ON APPEAL FROM QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION, ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
HHJ Mackie QC
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
LORD JUSTICE BEATSON
SIR STANLEY BURNTON
| The Queen on the application of Michael Evans
|- and -
|Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
|- and -
|Babergh District Council
||First Interested Party
|- and -
|Persimmon Homes Ltd
||Second Interested Party
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David Forsdick (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) for the Respondent
The First Interested Party did not appear and was not represented
Meyric Lewis (instructed by Ashton Kcj Solicitors) for the Second Interested Party
Hearing date: 13 February 2013
Crown Copyright ©
Lord Justice Beatson :
"Whilst recognising the historic and cultural importance of the landscape both in terms of the Grade 1 Listed Building of Abbas Hall, its status as part of a Special Landscape Area and its cultural associations with the work of Thomas Gainsborough, the location of the development, largely shielded by a bowl in the landscape and next to an existing housing development, together with the wider absorption capacity of open rolling hills around the site, mean that the impact of the development would not be of sufficient magnitude to be likely to have a significant effect on the environment."
"The decision-maker must have regard to the precautionary principle and to the degree of uncertainty, as to environmental impact, at the date of decision. Depending on the information available, the decision-maker may or may not be able to make a judgment as to the likelihood of significant effects on the environment. There may be cases where the uncertainties are such that a negative decision cannot be taken."
"It is also clear from…Commission v Portugal (2004) ECR 1 5517 that, in order to demonstrate that the national authorities exceeded the limits of their discretion by failing to require that an impact assessment be carried out before giving consent for a specific project, the Commission cannot limit itself to general assertions by, for example, merely pointing out that the information provided shows that the project in question is located in a highly sensitive area, without presenting specific evidence to demonstrate that the national authorities concerned made a manifest error of assessment when they gave consent to a project."
"I do not see that there is any true question of proportionality arising in the present case. We are not concerned with the exercise of a discretion and therefore we are not concerned with assessing whether a response to a particular aim is or is not proportionate. We are concerned with a fact-finding exercise. There is nothing, as it seems to me, in the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice to show that the conventional English law approach is inapt…."
Sir Stanley Burnton:
Lord Justice Patten: