High Court Ruling

Three Law Lords sitting in the Court of Appeal have dismissed a challenge to the granting of planning permission for activities carried out at Bruntingthorpe proving ground and airfield.

Lords Justices Laws, Lewison and Bean heard an appeal by an individual opposed to a planning permission which was granted in March 2013 to allow various activities to continue at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, including media and corporate operations, the use of vehicles by the emergency services, driver tuition, go-karts and cycling.  Last year the opponent argued that Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, had been wrong in his decision that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was unnecessary in deciding whether to grant planning consent for the operation.  He questioned the effectiveness of noise controls on the development, arguing that there are difficulties in proving breaches of a 40 decibel noise limit, because of the problem of knowing what particular uses give rise to noise when tested.

However, at the 2014 High Court hearing Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed the case and upheld the planning permission, finding that the opponent’s criticisms were “not well-founded”.

On 5th March 2015, Lord Justice Laws, has agreed with Mr Justice Supperstone’s ruling and rejected the appeal.  He said that the key question was whether the planning permission was “likely to have significant environmental effects”, and that the noise cap was only one of a “whole series of measures to control noise”.  He said that the council’s environmental health officer and planning officers had reached the conclusion that there would be no significant environmental impacts, that there would not be a “statutory” nuisance as a result of noise, and that the secretary of state had those reports before him when he made his decision.

The judge continued: “He [Mr Justice Supperstone] concluded that significant environmental effects were unlikely,” and added that the High Court judge was “wholly entitled” to conclude that difficulty enforcing the noise cap did not affect the underlying conclusion to that effect.

David Walton, Managing Director of Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground and Airfield, said the Court of Appeal ruling had brought to an end almost two years of frustration for the company, which directly employs 120 people and whose on-site tenants provide jobs for a further 250 people.  “Having complied with all the requests and conditions of our planning permission we were disappointed that one person felt the facility should not be granted consent and, therefore, closed down.  However, we fully understand the avenues that the laws of the land offer and the rights of individuals to follow those avenues.  We have therefore patiently waited for the ruling from the Court of Appeal Law Lords.

“Following their welcome decision on 5th March, we can now look forward to continuing to provide much-needed facilities for the extremely important international automotive industry as well as equally-needed jobs for many local people together with revenue for a wide range of business and commerce in our local community and the region.  In doing so we will, of course, adhere to council-imposed controls regarding noise.

“This is a family-run business and the majority of our family live in and around Bruntingthorpe.  So we are part of the community and are neighbours to our own business – not absent landlords.  This places us in an ideal position for our neighbours to approach us at any time should they have any concerns.”