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Sustainabilty Rules OK

Robert McCracken QC
James Pereira QC
Richard Honey

The Secretary of State has refused planning permission for the Quinn Glass factory, on the site of the former Ince B power station near Elton in Cheshire, as a result of a wide range of objections to the development and despite recognising that there would be some benefits from employment development on a brownfield site.

The development was comprehensively rejected on a number of grounds, many related to the scheme's poor performance in terms of sustainability, where there were "significant shortcomings" in a scheme which "lacks sustainability credentials". The Secretary of State found that:

  • the failure to consider renewable energy was a significant shortcoming in the development;
  • the proposal did not rest comfortably with the Government's objectives for renewable energy and recycling;
  • in terms of the use of rail as a mode of transport, the development fell very far short of what should be expected from a major site located alongside a working rail freight line;
  • more could be done to secure alternative forms of transport for employees, raw materials and finished products, and that the proposals in s106 agreements were insufficiently robust;
  • the design lacked sustainability credentials and an environmental audit; and
  • little was achieved by the proposals as to sustainable drainage, given opportunities for rain water harvesting and green roof technology.

Construction of the factory had commenced in breach of planning control and was substantially completed and in operation at the time of the inquiry. The Inspector commented that there had been a "stark conflict" in the case between the "commercial imperatives" of Quinn Glass and "the safeguards to the public interest provided by planning and other regulatory controls".

Robert McCracken QC and James Pereira appeared for Rockware, the main objector to the development, instructed by Paul Stone of DLA Piper. Richard Honey appeared for the GMB Union, also an objector, instructed by Roger Tym and Partners. The inquiry was held between November 2005 and March 2006.