Case: R (Mageean) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government  EWHC 2652
Facts :A developer requested that Caradon District Council (CDC) give a screening opinion as to whether a proposed wind turbine would be an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development based on whether it would have “significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as nature, size or location.” CDC advised that the wind turbine would be an EIA development. The developer requested a screening direction from the Secretary of State (SoS) in 2003 and was advised that the development was not an EIA development.
In 2006, part of the Cornwall and West Devon mining landscape close to the site was designated as a World Heritage Site (WHS). In 2007, the developer submitted a planning application to the Council which was refused. The developer appealed and the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) allowed it. The Council applied for an order to quash the permission arguing that there was an obligation on PINS to consider referring the case back to the SoS for a review of the 2003 screening direction due to the passage of time and the designation of the WHS.
Held: The High Court quashed the planning permission and held that the designation of nearby land as a WHS was a material change in circumstances. Accordingly PINS should have reviewed whether to refer the screening direction back to the SoS for reconsideration.
Note: The EIA Regulations do not specify how long a screening direction lasts. The Court acknowledged that in the absence of a material change in circumstances the passage of time would not automatically trigger the screening direction to be referred back to the SoS. However, it is important to note that if there is a material change in circumstances following a screening decision, the decision maker may need to reconsider the same.