The High Court (Mr Justice Lane) has refused permission for Suffolk Energy Action Solutions SPV Ltd. (“SEAS”) to apply for judicial review of the decision by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to grant DCOs for the East Anglia One North and East Anglia Two offshore windfarms (CO/1696/2022).
SEAS’s proposed claim was concerned with the implications of the efforts made by the Interested Parties (East Anglia One North Ltd. and East Anglia Two Ltd.) to negotiate the acquisition of the interests in land needed for the onshore elements of the two schemes, in parallel to seeking powers of compulsory acquisition (“CA”). It was alleged that the Interested Parties had “embarked on what appeared to be a systematic, well-funded and intended-to-be-secret programme aiming to suppress participation of all affected landowners in not just the consideration of CA issues but also examination of the underlying impacts and planning merits of the developments” and that this had “a chilling effect … on the public process” that the Secretary of State failed to grapple with when making his decision.
Permission to apply for judicial review had been refused on the papers by Mrs Justice Lang.
SEAS’s renewed oral application was dismissed as being unarguable, in a judgment that considers: the importance and implications of the inquisitorial nature of the examination process established under the Planning Act 2008, the powers available to examining authorities to ensure that they can obtain all of the information they require (and the implications of the EIA Regulations in that regard), the lawfulness of the agreed Heads of Terms in this case, and the ability of the Secretary of State to rely on summaries of issues in the draft decision letter prepared by officials without himself having to read the underlying documents which raise those issues.