Green party

As sober as a newt?

9 May 2003

Judicial review proceedings seeking to quash the planning permission granted by Chester City Council for a massive development at Chester Business Park, home to a colony of great crested newts, were issued in the High Court in London last week.

The proceedings, which were issued on behalf of Green Party Flintshire County Councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun, allege that Chester City Council failed to give proper consideration to European Directives relating both to habitats and environmental impact assessments when they made their decision to give planning permission to MBNA Europe Bank Limited in March 2003. Councillor Armstrong-Braun also claims the Council failed to comply with relevant planning policies.

Councillor-Armstrong-Braun is a leading environmental campaigner with a special interest in great crested newts, one of the endangered species of creatures specifically protected by the European Habitats Directive.

Councillor-Armstrong-Braun said "It is important that local planning authorities like Chester City Council should deal with planning applications in a proper and lawful manner, and in particular that they should always comply with laws and policies designed to protect the environment. The great crested newt, despite its rather grand name, is a small amphibian whose existence is threatened by modern developments. It is important for the future of our planet that we should protect these vulnerable creatures against the environmental degradation that unfortunately seems to go hand in hand with so called "progress"".

The legal team handling the case for Councillor Armstrong-Braun, Solicitor John Blakesley of Gamlins in Llandudno and London Barristers Robert McCracken Q.C. and David Lawson, are all members of the Environmental Law Foundation, a national charity which helps communities and individuals obtain legal and technical expertise to prevent damage to the environment.


1. The grounds for the Judicial Review challenge are:

  • Failure to identify and apply the relevant tests required under Article 16 of the habitats Directive.
  • Failure properly to consider potential alternative sites.
  • Failure to consider rationally the implications of the Bank's proposed 24 hour shift working pattern on the application of car parking policies.
  • Four separate failures to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

    2. Cllr. Armstrong-Braun has been assisted in this case by the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF), a charity which helps people with environmental problems.

    3. Apologies for the heading - we think there must be a joke there somewhere!