Updated Jun 11, 2019

Dismissed judicial review against poultry-rearing facility successfully appealed

An appeal against a dismissed judicial review, of planning permission granted by Shropshire Council for an intensive poultry-rearing facility, has been allowed.

The facility was to be constructed on the operator's land, with the disposal of manure to be used as agricultural fertiliser on the operator's and third-party land. This was confirmed by an environmental impact assessment (EIA), which also considered the impact of odour and dust arising from the use of the buildings.

The appellant claimed that manure from the poultry buildings, when stored off-site and spread on agricultural land, would cause unacceptable odour and dust.

The Environment Agency advised that the operator would be required to put in place a manure management plan, dealing with the future storage and spreading of manure on his land under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2016/1154. It expressly stated that it would not be involved in the control of any issues arising from activities outside the installation boundary.

A permit was issued under the 2016 Regulations, allowing for activities including the "removal of birds and associated wastes from site". The permit required the operator to take appropriate measures in disposal or recovery of manure to prevent or minimise pollution. Shropshire Council granted planning permission, which the appellant challenged for failure to consider the effects of the development on the environment. The Judge at review stage was satisfied the permit was sufficient to control the management of manure off-site in order to protect the environment.

On appeal, the Judge confirmed it was clear that the planning officer had misunderstood the scope and effect of the future manure management plan to be put in place by the operator. He had failed to acknowledge that such a plan would relate only to the operator's land, not to any third-party land where the manure might be disposed of, with no assurance that the plan would control odour and dust pollution. He had also failed to provide his own assessment.

The EIA had discussed the proposed arrangements for the operator's land but not any third party's, nor had it specified the third-party land which the manure was going to be spread. It had also not assessed the effects of odour and dust arising from the storage and spread of manure. It gave no indication that the Environment Agency had concluded that the proposed storage and spreading of manure was not a potential source of pollution, which ought to be addressed in determining the planning application.

The Judge concluded "in my view the EIA for the proposed development was incomplete and unlawful, and this unlawfulness vitiated the council's decision to grant planning permission".

The appeal was allowed.