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First Ruling on the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive

Gregory Jones QC

Described by the press as a "body blow" to the government and a "landmark case", Re Seaport Investments is the first High Court judgment anywhere in the UK (delivered on 7 September 2007) on the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.

Seaport Investments challenged the adoption of the North Area Action Plan setting out the planning policies for the north of Northern Ireland. Mr. Justice Weatherup's judgment has profound consequences not only for Northern Ireland where he held that the whole structure of the Planning Service failed to comply with the directive but also for England where he found that the failure of the regulations - identical to those adopted in England - to specify a period of time for consultation was in breach of the directive. The judgment also gives guidance on what is meant by 'early and effective' consultation, the requirements for an Environmental Report and non technical summary.

Keith Lindblom QC and Gregory Jones acted for Seaport Investments Ltd, instructed by Gary McGhee of Carson McDowell.