Alistair Baxter (Senior Director) provided evidence in respect of a Secretary of State call in inquiry for a site in Sussex. A planning permission granted on appeal by the Secretary of State in 2016 had been previously quashed by the High Court following a judicial review. One of the reasons cited was that part of the site fell inside the 7km zone of influence for Ashdown Forest SPA, and albeit no development was proposed in this location, a condition had not been imposed to restrict future development in this area.
The site was re-considered at inquiry in 2020 by the Secretary of State. Since the time of the original application a SANG had been brought forward in the village located close to the site. Natural England’s advice in 2020 was that contributions should be made to the SANG as residents from the appeal proposals may use it. Alistair presented evidence to explain that this was not the required test under the Habitats Regulations, as to whether mitigation is required, while no local policy was in place that required mitigation to be provided for sites located outside of the SPA’s 7km zone of influence. Having applied the correct test, Alistair concluded that mitigation was not necessary and SANG and SAMM contributions could be avoided. Following a detailed review of the evidence, the Inspector agreed with Alistair’s findings, with the Inspector’s conclusion on this matter subsequently endorsed by the Secretary of State in the decision notice on 16 February 2021. This case serves as a useful precedent for future sites located just outside the zone of influence of the SPA.
The appeal decision can be found here: https://acp.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/ViewCase