Are we at risk of an extended Judicial Review period?on
In these uncertain times, planning permissions continue to be put forward to the local authorities and due to increased government pressure to deliver new homes over the next couple of years, we could see a number of projects being fast-tracked in an attempt to cover any losses or delays caused by COVID-19.
The standard JR period for planning decisions is 6 weeks but the JR period can be extended at the Court’s discretion. Given that the current circumstances are resulting in fast-tracked or virtual committees as well as other special procedures being implemented by planning authorities, questions around transparency and effective neighbour consultation could arise (amongst other points) that could cause Courts to consider exercising their discretion.
A Judicial Review policy offers protection against the financial consequences of a third-party challenge to the validity of a planning permission, order, or permit granted or made by a local authority or other public body.
The below case study from one of our partners and leading underwriters in this field, CLS, demonstrates how a Judicial Review insurance policy allowed works to commence on site with ongoing objections.
A renewable energy developer submitted planning permission to develop a wind farm in central Scotland. As part of the planning application, the developer submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment which highlighted that the scheme fell within several Special Protection Areas for protected species but concluded that there would be limited impact to local wildlife. Despite objections that some species were not included, the Council decided that a further environmental impact assessment was not required and approved the scheme.
Following the approval of the planning permission, the objectors submitted a claim for judicial review, alleging that the EIA was based on incorrect information and the Council had insufficient information to assess the impact the scheme would have on local wildlife. The appeal was rejected by both the Outer and Inner House of the Court of Sessions. Due to funding requirements, the developer had a tight deadline on construction in order to ensure the scheme was revenue generating by a certain date and was unable to further postpone works on site. Concerns remained following this that the objectors may continue their appeal to the UK Supreme Court, particularly given the continued crowdfunding campaign from the national interest group. The developer worked with their broker, alongside CLS, who were able to provide a policy that covered their abortive and decommissioning costs if the objectors launched a successful appeal to the UK Supreme Court, allowing works to commence on site.
If you have any concerns or general queries regarding potential objections to your ongoing and future sites and would like more information on how a Judicial Review policy can offer you protection, please get in touch today.