Legal review fails to quash barn approval

A bid to quash a controversial planning approval for a livestock-rearing operation on the north Northumberland coast has been unsuccessful.

In April 2012, a hotly-contested scheme at Dunstan Steads Farm, Embleton, was passed on a majority verdict by members of Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee, despite hundreds of objections.

The application, by farmer Ivor Gaston, was for a steel-framed livestock building, a 10,000-litre effluent tank, temporary accommodation in the form of a caravan, a sewage treatment plant and drainage, parking areas, a boundary fence, landscaping and associated access.

The farm has since been sold to a new owner.

Embleton Parish Council and resident David Ainsley took the case to the High Court for a judicial review to challenge Northumberland County Council’s permission on seven grounds.

But in the approved judgement by Judge Behrens, which was issued on Friday, December 6, the claim was dismissed.

Mr Ainsley said: “In essence, although the judge did note several errors on the part of the planners, his view was that the claimants were not sufficiently prejudiced by these for him to quash the grant of planning permission.

“I wish especially to record my gratitude for the support of my fellow claimants and those who contributed to the fighting fund. I’d also like to thank our lawyers and barrister.”

Karen Ledger, head of development services at the county council, said: “It is obviously very pleasing to receive this judgement – which demonstrates that all our processes and procedures were followed correctly, and that the planning decision made was a sound one.

“I was particularly pleased to hear the comments made about the planning officer who dealt with this case – who the judge said was a conscientious officer who plainly undertook his duties with care.”

She added: “Like many other jobs in local government, dealing with planning issues can be a challenging role – and it is good to have efforts acknowledged when scrutinised in this way.”

It was also ordered that the claimants, Embleton Parish Council and David Ainsley, shall pay the defendants’s (Northumberland County Council) costs.