Sustainable Food Knighton by Helen Hamilton of Marches Planning, an ELF Technical Adviser

The Environmental Law Foundation has helped a campaign to stall plans for a development of two massive intensive poultry units in beautiful Welsh countryside near the historic border town of Knighton. Read here to learn about this important and successful Judicial Review.

Local campaign group Sustainable Food Knighton sought ELF’s assistance after Powys County Council granted planning permission for the development, despite numerous objections, including from Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Welsh heritage agency CADW.

Barristers Philippa Jackson and Ruth Keating from 39 Essex Chambers gave their services along with Matthew McFeeley of Richard Buxton solicitors. They prepared a judicial review challenge of the decision on seven grounds and, highly unusually, received permission from the High Court to proceed on all of them.

The grounds included the failure properly to address NRW’s concerns about great crested newts, to consider air quality impacts on nearby parkland trees or the unpleasant effects of spreading poultry manure. The case also challenged the Council’s lack of consideration of the climate change impacts of the development.

Powys Council agreed to the quashing of the planning permission after the Court gave its resounding permission for the judicial review to proceed.

Powys made the concession on a single technical ground, relating to the way it had tried to overcome objections to the negative effects of spreading very large quantities of odorous poultry manure.

The decision will be quashed by the High Court and sent back to Powys for redetermination.

Although Powys accepted it had made only one of the errors alleged by the Claimants, it will need to address all the grounds of challenge when it reconsiders the application if it is to avoid a further legal challenge.

The court’s decision is encouraging news for other objectors to intensive livestock developments and for those concerned about the climate change impacts of development.

The adverse air quality and amenity impacts of intensive livestock development and the risks they pose to biodiversity are matters that planning authorities need to address on the basis of evidence and they should pay attention to objectors’ concerns.

The Welsh government and many planning authorities have declared a climate emergency, but such public posturing is not always reflected in planning decisions. In confirming that the failure to regard climate change as a material consideration was an arguable ground, the courts have shown that planning authorities may face legal challenges if they ignore the climate emergency in future decisions.

The Claimant was Camilla Saunders, one of the founders of Sustainable Food Knighton.