HSE statement on Judicial Review
A HSE spokesperson said: "The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) welcomes today's judgement that Wolverhampton Council failed to notify the HSE that it was minded to grant planning permission, and it failed to notify the HSE that it had granted planning permission against our advice. This sends a clear message to other Local Planning Authorities that they must follow the procedure set out in the relevant guidance in such cases.
"Local planning authorities are legally required to notify HSE of any applications for development within a certain distance of sites where hazardous substances are stored. In this case, HSE was not notified that planning permission had been granted for the development in Culwell Street, which is within the consultation distance for Carvers Builders Merchants, which stores LPG.
"Today's judgement helpfully reinforces the importance of our role in making clear that, for example:
- Where guidance states the HSE should be informed before the grant of planning permission - this is a mandatory requirement;
- The Planning Committee must be fully informed of all safety considerations;
- The Council should have proper regard to their own policies on development near major hazard sites; and
- The planning decision must be made 'having full regard to HSE's view and HSE must be able to investigate an individual case in order to form a view' - in other words we should have the opportunity to request call-in for a planning inquiry if we have serious safety concerns.
"We note that some of the relief sought by HSE was not granted because of the prejudice to the developer caused by the delay in bringing the matter to Court. When HSE learnt that the planning permission had been granted, it was too late to request the application be 'called-in'. HSE tried to engage with the Council to avoid legal action, however when it became evident that this approach wasn't working, HSE followed due process and announced it would be seeking a Judicial Review.
"HSE shall take account of the judgement if it deals with similar cases in the future and will continue to base its advice on planning applications on the best assessment of risk."