QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF|
|GREGAN & OTHERS||(CLAIMANTS)|
|- and -|
|HARTLEPOOL BOROUGH COUNCIL||(DEFENDANT)|
|- and -|
|ABLE UK LIMITED||(INTERESTED PARTY)|
DAVID WOLFE appeared on behalf of the CLAIMANTS
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
Crown Copyright ©
Thursday, 18th December 2003
MR JUSTICE SULLIVAN:
"now able to indicate the Council's view as Local Planning Authority on the relationship between past planning permissions granted for the site and your current proposals to use the site for the receipt and dismantling of ships.
Having reviewed relevant documentation and legal advice on these matters, I can confirm that it is our view that the permission granted in 2002 for the continuation of the use of the site (ref. H/FUL/375/02) provides permission for the dismantling and refurbishment of ships. As indicated previously, that permission is subject to the discharge of the relevant conditions. We have today granted approval of reserved matters (including all relevant conditions precedent). We are therefore satisfied that the necessary planning approval for the receipt and dismantling of ships has been granted.
I am copying this letter to MARAD [the United States' Maritime Administration] and to Friends of the Earth [FOE], who have requested an indication of the Council's position on this matter in view of the imminent Court proceedings. I shall also advise the other regulatory bodies of the position tomorrow."
"Pending further Order of the Court the interested party must not carry out any work, including but not limited to dismantling work, on ships from the US Naval Defence Reserve Fleet that might be delivered to the Interested Party's TERRC site other than work that is necessary to make and keep safe those ships."
Agreed legal principles
"(1) The general rule is that in construing a planning permission which is clear, unambiguous and valid on its face, regard may only be had to the planning permission itself, including the conditions (if any) on it and the express reasons for those conditions.
(2) This rule excludes reference to the planning application as well as to other extrinsic evidence, unless the planning permission incorporates the application by reference. In that situation the application is treated as having become part of the permission. The reason for normally not having regard to the application is that the public should be able to rely on a document which is plain on its face without having to consider whether there is any discrepancy between the permission and the application.
(3) For incorporation of the application in the permission to be achieved, more is required than a mere reference to the application on the face of the permission. While there is no magic formula, some words sufficient to inform a reasonable reader that the application forms part of the permission are needed, such as ' ... in accordance with the plans and application ... ' or ' ... on the terms of the application ...', and in either case those words appearing in the operative part of the permission dealing with the development and the terms in which permission is granted. These words need to govern the description of the development permitted.
(4) If there is an ambiguity in the wording of the permission, it is permissible to look at extrinsic material, including the application, to resolve that ambiguity."
The relevant documents
"The Teeside Development Corporation as the Local: Planning Authority HEREBY PERMIT the development proposed by you in your application received on 29 August 1996 namely dismantling/refurbishment of redundant marine structures & equipment; storage & processing of sea dredged aggregate including construction of ready-mix concrete batching plant; stockpiling of rock armour; recycling of construction & demolition waste; waste transfer facility; bulk waste material storage facility; composting facility/enlargement & refurbishment of dock & use as base for oil-related floating crane & transport barges; import & export of general cargoes; berthing facility; use of land for fabrication yard for offshore structures including structures for oil and gas exploration, exploration production platforms and accommodation modules, and for the construction of marine related structures and equipment and storage of civil engineering plant and equipment, former John Laing Offshore Construction facility, Graythorp dock, Graythorp, Hartlepool and shown on the accompanying plan(s) subject to ... the conditions specified hereunder."
"3. The development shall be carried out in strict accordance with the Application and Environmental Statement dated 27 August 1996, as varied by subsequent letters and plans dated 19 September 1996 and 2 December 1996, (all of which are expressly incorporated into the permission) save as varied by any of the conditions attached to the permission or by any of the details which may subsequently be approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority."
"13. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Town and Country Planning General Development Order 1995 (or any order revoking and re-enacting that Order), no development shall take place other than as expressly authorised by this or any subsequent planning permission."
"Former John Laing Offshore Construction Facility, Graythorp Dock, Graythorp, Hartlepool."
"Dismantling/refurbishment of redundant marine structures and equipment; storage & processing of sea dredged aggregate; stockpiling of rock armour; recycling of construction & demolition waste; waste transfer facility; composting facility; enlargement and refurbishment of dock and use as base for oil-related floating crane and transport barges; import and export of general cargoes."
"Construction of oil rigs and associated marine structures. Ceased in 1990."
"The existing lawful use of Graythorp Dock is as a fabrication yard for offshore structures, principally oil and gas exploration / production platforms and accommodation modules, and for the construction of other marine-related structures and equipment.
As you know, the current planning application proposes the importation of redundant marine structures and equipment, their refurbishment and disposal.
In my opinion, the operations involved in fabricating such structures or in refurbishing / dismantling them must be regarded as being very similar, for example in the nature of the materials and equipment used, and in the river movements of the structures either into or out of the basin.
The Applicants wish to retain this existing use alongside the proposed uses, and therefore request that this can be provided for in the wording of the decision notice. When the site was owned by Laing Offshore, the entire site was used for the operation, although taking into account the range of uses included on the site layout, the most likely working areas now are those closest to the basin. I understand you will be raising this additional matter at a meeting with Hartlepool Council and English Nature on 12 December 1996."
"Ship means a vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment and includes hydrofoil boats, air-cushion vehicles, submersibles, floating craft and fixed or floating platforms and a vessel that has been stripped of equipment or is towed."
"A vessel of any type whatsoever operating in the marine environment, including submersible craft, floating craft, and any structure which is a fixed or floating platform."
" ... to describe the proposed development, the environment of the site as it currently exists, to determine the impact of the proposed development, describe the appropriate mitigation measures where the impact is likely to have an adverse effect, and to assess the net effect of the development if mitigation is fully applied."
"Marine structures, vessels, dredgings, rock armour, barges and cranes will access the site via the Seaton on Tees Channel which leads directly from Tees Mouth. The Channel is periodically dredged to maintain its profile, responsibility for this falling upon the Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority. Vessels arriving at TERRC via Tees Bay will therefore not have to pass any existing marine facilities other than the minor jetty and slipway to the east of the Power Station. Vessels moving to or from the North Sea will therefore not contribute to congestion in the lower reaches of the Tees."
"The activity of importing redundant North Sea oil related production facilities involves equipment called modules (these are large pieces of an oil platform typically weighing from 700 tonnes to 3,000 tonnes) and jackets (the structure that sits on the sea bed and the platform is constructed on top of it), being imported by North Sea barges with weights of up to 20,000 tonnes in any one delivery. The structures will be loaded in and may be transported to a laydown area for subsequent processing."
" The work involved in the importation of redundant North Sea structures, modules and ships includes the following:
- The receipt at a deep water berth facility of redundant equipment.
- Mooring and ballasting of the barge to quay top level to enable the removal of modules.
- The cutting away of structural steel grillages and sea fastenings from the modules to allow off loading.
- The removal to shore of the modules and equipment for storage within a stock yard area of TERRC."
"The area of TERRC dedicated for the receipt of North Sea barges and the storage area will require the following site facilities, operating plant and equipment."
" - Quay facility suitable to load up to a maximum tonnage of 20,000 tonnes.
- Mooring bollards suitable for barges and other vessels.
- Dock lighting suitable for 24 hour operations.
- A load-in route of well prepared hardcore ballast materials on a fully compact sub-ground, set level with the quayside and constructed with minimum falls to the store area.
- A well compacted and engineered load storage yard, with ground capable of sustaining an imposed loading of 100 tonnes per m2 for the duration of the module storage. A full groundwater and run-off water collection facility connected to an oil interceptor and filter system prior to connection to the site infrastructure drainage system."
" - 4 No. 15 tonne single drum, single pull, diesel driven winches connected to 4 No. concrete foundations set at required positions to hold barges during load-in operations.
- 20 No. Ballast water pumps 150mm nominal bore ballast water pumps with 15m of suction and 30m of delivery hose to each pump.
- Ro-Ro ramps/link beams are required to carry the fully loaded transporters from the barge onto the quay. The size of the ramp is 5m x 1m x 0.2m and 10 No. of these will be required.
- 5 No. 18 line strings of Scheuerle heavy lift transporters each consisting of one drive unit and 18 line 2 wheel axles (capacity 3,000 tonnes).
- Steel and concrete stillage blocks 1.5m high with a minimum ground footprint of 2.25m2
- 250 No.
- Stillage block handling fork truck and 30 tonne excavator with lift facility up to 8 tonne capacity with various equipment.
- Tug and safety boat. ...
- Deep water berthing facilities for mooring of up to 3 No. North Sea barges at any one load in operation. ...
- For the load-in the ballast will always use water.
- When the barges are ballasted the water is transferred either from the basin direct into the barges or from the barges back into the basin. The water in the barges has normally been put in either from Norway Fjords or when ballasted adjacent to the oil rig at sea."
"The facility at TERRC will be used for the importation of redundant offshore modules and structures and as a direct follow on, the structures will be refurbished to provide quality used, refurbished offshore marine structures for the emerging oil fields and other operations."
"The North Sea's oil field structures, which total in excess of 400, will be TERRC's main source of supply (average 16 platforms per annum). The structures will be removed by the producers over the next 25 years giving a constant supply ranging from decks, jackets, drilling rigs and accommodation. TERRC will also provide services for other marine structures and for merchant shipping in general."
"The derelict dry dock gates will be taken to the western side of the basin to provide barge moorings ...".
"4.4.1 The facility at TERRC will be used for the importation of redundant offshore modules and structures and as a direct follow on, the plant and equipment will be refurbished to provide a quality second-hand refurbished offshore marine plant and equipment for the emerging and existing oil fields around the world.
4.4.2 The structures contain a full working set of oil and gas production plant, equipment and generation facilities. The plant and equipment, in general, is maintained to a high standard offshore by oil production companies and is very much in demand by all oil and gas production companies throughout the world."
"As part of the importation of redundant North Sea modules, elements of the structures which are not of use will be recycled and disposed of in a controlled manner."
"Much of the work at TERRC will be involved with refurbishing or dismantling marine structures. It is anticipated that 16 structures will be brought to TERRC per year, these being of up to 20,000 te deadweight. The proportion going for refurbishing, as opposed to scrapping, will vary from time to time. Initially it is envisaged that refurbishment will account for 20% of the work on marine structures."
"6.2.1 The oil and gas industry has been operating in the North Sea sector for a period in excess of 25 years. The older oil and gas fields are coming to the end of their productive life and the new fields have a life expectancy of a further 25 years. Many older fields are revising the plant and equipment to take advantage of the lower field pressure of gas production. Accordingly, there is a known number of oil and gas production platforms with a programmed abandonment schedule of removal from the North Sea for the next three decades.
6.2.2 There are in excess of 400 production units situated within the North Sea fields. The IMO (International Marine Organisation) Guidelines adopted in 1989 prescribed the removal of Offshore Installations and Structures from the Continental Shelf and this policy has been further strengthened by the London Convention, which in 1993 called for the total removal of up to 90-95% of all offshore structures upon abandonment of the production facility.
6.2.3 Following the recent press, and public pressure of the European Governments regarding Shell and their proposed deep sea disposal of the Brent Spar facility, it now seems likely that deep sea disposal of oil and gas production facilities may not be an option for the oil industry, and that land based disposals will be required.
6.2.4 The market for module disposal will be continuous throughout the full life cycle of the North Sea Oil and Gas Field production, and sources within the oil industries predict that structures will be removed for disposal at a rate of up to 20 platforms per annum throughout the period 1996 to the year 2020.
6.2.5 Teeside is an eminently suitable base for this type of work, as it is a major port with direct access to the North Sea Oil and Gas Fields. Tees Bay is a particularly well sheltered location to which structures may be towed. There is ample expertise in the area in the form of existing offshore fabrication companies, service companies to the offshore industry and suppliers to the offshore industry. Teeside is well-based for recycling reusable steel that is no longer required on the structures."
"6.10.1 The Able Group has been involved in recycling of petrochemical equipment for 20 years. This led to the Group being involved in recycling redundant marine structures, which it has been doing for the past 10 years. The major abandonment programme of marine structures from the North Sea commenced during 1994, and Able UK were the first company in Europe to be approved by Shell Exploration and Production to carry out the abandonment reclamation and recycling works from the North Sea.
6.10.2 To date, the Company has successfully carried out the load-in, dismantling and disposal works on modules from Philips, Shell/Esso Brent Bravo, Shell/Esso Brent Dunlin, Shell/Esso Brent Cormorant, Modules from Shell Brent Charlie were received in May 1996. The Company also received a barge with approximately 5,000 tonnes of redundant equipment from BHP Hamilton Esmond Field in June 1996. A 4000te platform, the first gas structure to be demolished or refurbished has recently been contracted from Shell.
6.10.3 The complete platform from Shell BK Leman is due to be received in October 1996.
6.10.4. The Company has to date received the equipment at their existing premises on the River Tees, Haverton Hill. However, the size of the structures becoming available in the following 30 years are such that it will be impossible to receive these at the existing facility."
"Marine structures, vessels ... barges and cranes."
"Redundant North Sea structures, modules and ships ... "
"Other marine structures and ... merchant shipping."
" ... an Environmental Statement is inherently a very unsatisfactory document if it is to be regarded as part of the application itself. It is often lengthy, as this one is, containing many expressions of subjective opinion as to the effects of the proposals, those being statements difficult to regard as being part of the application itself."
In that case the Environmental Statement was not expressly incorporated into the planning permission and the question was whether it should be considered by the Court as part of the extrinsic evidence for the purpose of construing the permission.
"The only types of waste deposited at the site shall be ... plant, equipment and machinery, including offshore structures."