- seeking justice
Similar 'landfill school' experiments
Members of the Glebelands Alliance highlighting
24 January 2014
Chepstow Friends of the Earth has told Newport council that it would be unlawful to grant planning permission for an application to build 248 houses at the Glebelands prior to considering all the potential environmental impacts of the entire Glebelands Development project.
When the latest planning application for 248 dwellings was submitted to Newport council in December 2013 (Application 13/1279), Newport council had another opportunity to regularise matters by requiring Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Glebelands Development - that is, the entire Glebelands Development.
After 13 years of campaigning by local residents, Newport council did finally agree to screen this latest application for EIA. But a bizarre ruling by council planners means that the developer was only required to assess the impacts of the 248 houses, rather than the combined impacts of the entire school and housing project. The resulting reports are worthless.
As things stand, the cumulative impacts of all the Glebelands Development elements, and other related projects and plans, will not be considered prior to determining the application.
Steve Rawlings, Glebelands Alliance, commented:
"Newport council appears to have exercised more power than was reasonable, and acted against the public interest. It would appear that Newport council has distorted the aims of the EIA Directives and UK law to reduce the scope of the long overdue Environmental Impact Assessment.
"Newport council must ensure that all environmental impacts of the Glebelands Development, including cumulative impacts, are properly assessed, and development options fully considered prior to granting planning permission. The Environmental Statement that accompanies the application is not sufficiently broad in purpose or in scope."
27 February 2012
Welsh Ministers have decided to withhold the legal advice they received prior to deciding whether the Glebelands development should be subject to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process.
Contrary to EU law (EIA Directives) and UK law (EIA Regulations), the Glebelands development has still not been 'screened' for environmental impact assessment by Newport council, the public authority primarily responsible for issuing an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening opinion.
A screening decision is a necessary first step in the EIA process which requires decision makers to account for environmental values in their decisions and to justify those decisions in light of detailed environmental studies and public comments on the potential environmental impacts of the development.
So far, the actions of Newport council and the Welsh Government have blocked every opportunity to consider properly the risks of the Glebelands development to local residents, users of the Glan Usk Primary School, and to the wider environment.
As well as failing to make a screening direction, the Welsh Government has now announced that it will not be releasing the legal advice that led to its failure to issue a screening direction, because:
"the public interest in withholding this information outweighs the public interest in releasing it."
"We consider that the release of the legal advice [that is] the subject of this request is likely to cause substantial harm to the public interest in retaining the confidentiality of legal and policy advice to Ministers."
Response from the Welsh Government stating the reasons for not disclosing the legal advice it received
Letter requesting that Welsh Ministers reconsider disclosure of the legal advice. Also requests details of the measures available to remedy a failure to carry out an environmental impact assessment.
6 January 2012
A request by the Glebelands Alliance for the Welsh Government to determine whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be carried out for the Glebelands development has been rejected.
Although Newport council failed to carry out an EIA screening exercise for the Glebelands development, the Welsh Ministers have refused to intervene by making its own screening direction.
Under EU law, this unfinished and environmentally complex development needs to be subject to environmental impact assessment due to its size; nature; and location. Newport council has failed to screen the development for EIA despite several opportunities to do so, including:
- prior to granting outline planning permission (October 2000);
- prior to granting development consent; and,
- prior to occupancy of Glan Usk Primary School (January 2010).
Campaigners were expecting the Welsh Ministers to regularise matters to ensure that the necessary risk assessments were carried out. It remains the case that Newport council has allowed the Glebelands development to proceed without knowing the likely environmental effects of the development, and without providing an Environmental Statement.
Initial response on behalf of the Welsh Ministers refusing request to make an EIA screening direction
30 August 2011
After waiting patiently for eight months, Jessica Morden MP has failed to get any response from Newport council to her enquiries about its handling of the Glebelands development.
The request was made to Newport council in December 2010 by Ms Morden on behalf of John Martin, Chairman of the Glebelands Action Group. Although Newport council acknowledged the request in January 2011, the request was never actioned and John Martin has since died.
30 March 2011
Despite a long list of allegations against Newport council relating to maladministration, unlawful decisions, misinformation and errors of judgement, the Welsh Ministers have decided to maintain their support for the Glebelands development.
The Glebelands Alliance considers that the evidence presented in the revocation request concerning the conduct and decisions of Newport council would, if tested, be a damning indictment of the council's planning and development control procedures. The Alliance also alleges that key planning decisions made by Newport council were unlawful.
However, the evidence presented in the revocation request will not be tested because the Welsh Ministers consider that the evidence does not pertain to relevant 'planning considerations'.
In its decision letter dated 24 March 2011, the Welsh Government claims that it can disregard maladministration, unlawful decisions, misinformation, and errors of judgement on the part of local authorities when considering a revocation request. The Glebelands Alliance feels that this approach cannot possibly promote good governance and has the potential to leave a rogue local authority free to do as it pleases.
The request to revoke planning permission was originally submitted to the Welsh Government in October 2009. In August 2010, the Glebelands Alliance rebutted the Welsh Government's original reasons for refusing to revoke planning permission. This resulted in the Welsh Ministers considering the request to revoke planning permission a second time.
15 December 2010
Enquiries made by members of the Glebelands Alliance during March and April 2010 confirmed that Newport council took no action to investigate the source of radioactive material detected during preliminary surveys in 2000.
Planning permission for the Glebelands development was granted in October 2000 by Newport council without following up the elevated radiation measurements.
At no time has Newport council sought to find out:
- the type(s) of radioactive material on the site;
- the precise location(s) of the radioactive material relative to the school building;
- how much radioactive material is present; or
- the likely environmental effects of the radioactive material.
The Council does not know the depth of the radioactive material or whether it is in the form of a gas, a liquid, or a solid. It is not known whether the radioactive material is sealed in glass vessels, or leaking from metal drums that corroded long ago.
Despite the clear evidence of the presence of radioactivity above normal background levels, Newport council concluded that:
"it is highly unlikely that the Glebelands site was ever a recipient of radioactive waste material".
15 December 2010
On 1st April 2010, the Welsh Assembly announced that it had decided not to revoke planning permission, stating "It was established, in the case R. v Hammersmith and Fulham LBC Ex p. CPRE London Branch (Leave to Appeal) (No.2) that neither a local authority nor the Welsh Ministers are under any duty, by virtue of European or domestic law, to revoke a planning consent granted which was, or appears to be, in breach of EIA Regulations."
However, this assessment is not entirely correct. As the Court of Justice pointed out in its judgement ex parte Delena WellsCase C-201/02, 7 January 2004, Member States have an ongoing duty to ensure compliance with Community law and make good breaches of the Directive. Indeed, United Kingdom authorities are obliged to take measures for remedying the failure to carry out an assessment of the environmental effects of a project, as provided for in Article 2(1) of Directive 85/337.
Accordingly, the Glebelands Alliance has asked the Welsh Ministers to re-consider the decision not to revoke planning consent on the grounds that UK authorities do have a duty to ensure compliance with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directives.
The Glebelands Alliance maintains that Newport council deprived local residents, pupils, parents, and other interested parties of the benefits of an environmental impact assessment which would have established the risks to human health and the wider environment caused by the development.
In July 2009, the Glebelands Alliance requested that Newport City Council revoke planning permission for the Glebelands development.
After three months, Newport City Council had still not responded to the revocation request, or a complaint to the council's Monitoring Officer. So, in October 2009, a new revocation request was prepared and submitted to the Welsh Assembly.
15 December 2010
Despite a six month investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the Glebelands Alliance is no closer to understanding why Newport council did not carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Glebelands development.
Nevertheless, the Glebelands Alliance is grateful to the ICO for its thorough investigation into Newport council's failure to make available details of the Council's 'EIA screening opinion' for the Glebelands development.
In February 2010, the ICO found that Newport council breached Regulations 11 and 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and concluded:
"Although it seems a reasonable expectation that there would be some written information which might comprise a 'screening opinion' either in the form of one specific document or a series of documents, it appears that no formal screening opinion was carried out in respect of this application.
The Alliance remains determined to find out why Newport council failed to properly consider EIA criteria, and why the public was deprived of knowing the likely environmental effects of this development prior to Newport council granting outline planning permission in October 2000.
Internal memo ignored
Also relevant is an internal memorandum from the Council's Planning Services department to the Development Control department. The memo was written prior to outline planning permission being granted and clearly requests that " . . . a formal determination is made as to whether or not an EIA is required, and this decision recorded in the requisite manner"
The Glebelands Alliance is a campaign group
that raises awareness of this
development at the Glebelands hazardous waste landfill site in Newport, South Wales.
A vast amount of source information can be accessed via the yellow ribbon at
the top of this page, including press cuttings, regulatory correspondence and