Legal challenge to Woodhouse Colliery fails
An attempt by pressure groups to overturn the decision to grant planning permission for Woodhouse Colliery, the planned new coking coal mine in West Cumbria, has failed. The High Court rejected the application for a Judicial Review of the decision.
In response to the court's ruling, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said:
"The Secretary of State has agreed to grant planning permission for a new metallurgical coal mine in Cumbria as recommended by the independent planning inspector.
"The reasons for the Secretary of State's decision are set out in full in his published letter, alongside the report of the independent planning inspector who oversaw the inquiry.
"It would be inappropriate to comment further given ongoing legal proceedings."
The inspectors report and the decision letter argue that the site will be used for producing steel which would otherwise need to be imported and that the development will have "an overall neutral effect on climate change".
It is perhaps worth pointing out - yet again - that this proposal went through exhaustive analysis in four separate stages, two involving independent professionals and two involving elected politicians of all the major political parties, and at every one of those four stages the people actually tasked with playing roles in determining the application came down in favour.
The council planning officers spent two years assessing the application and recommended approval.
The elected committee members of all political groups and none, after reading reports running to hundreds of pages and listening to hours of reports and representations, voted in each of three cross-party votes, unanimously or overwhelmingly to approve the application. (The first two votes were unanimous, the third was by a four-to-one margin with a majority of votes cast by councillors from each political party, and an independent councillor, in favour,
The independent inspector who chaired a public inquiry which heard days of evidence from the applicants, various experts, and representations for and against the mine, recommended in favour,
Finally the Secretary of State endorsed the inspector's recommendation and decided in favour.
I am not in the least surprised that the High Court has ruled that this decision is lawful and not to allow a judicial review. I hope and expect that this decision will stand.