Various actions have been taking place since the last update but the ongoing legal process has been rather like trudging through treacle. Here is a brief summary of the last 12 months.
- Our case was heard by the Court of Appeal but its ruling in February last year went against us, even though the judges agreed that there were two instances of unlawful conduct at critical stages in Suffolk Coastal’s decision-making process.
- We had succeeded in the High Court in establishing that SCDC’s process of selecting the Adastral site was unlawful under the EU Habitat and Environmental Directives. By the time the matter reached the Court of Appeal the Council also accepted that the “consultation” to double the number of houses on the site to 2000 was also unlawful. Nonetheless the Court of Appeal held that despite these serious failures of process, later consultation was sufficient to retrospectively legitimise the Council’s choice. This is difficult to accept as SCDC has refused to revisit the decisions that were informed by this unlawful conduct.
- On the advice of our lawyer, Richard Buxton, we then sought permission from the Supreme Court for our case to be heard there. In May we were informed that our application for permission had been refused.
- Richard was “profoundly concerned at the way the Courts have dealt with the requirements of EU law” with reference to ours, and other recent cases. In September he advised us to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision and to seek again permission for our case to be heard.
- We have now been informed that the Supreme Court will not give us permission. This means that we have explored every aspect of the English legal process and have exhausted all possible options.
- However, Richard feels very strongly that the matter should not end here. He is therefore examining the various avenues open to us via Europe. We will of course let you know if there are any further developments.
In the meantime, thank you very much for your support. Whilst we have not persuaded the courts to quash the relevant policies in SCDC’s Core Strategy, the courts did confirm that Suffolk Coastal’s actions when selecting the BT site and, when doubling the housing allocation to 2000, were unlawful. It remains to be seen if this prompts SCDC to act more responsibly in its future decision-making.