Revenue and Customs Commissioners v Brockenhurst College

European Union Value added tax. The Court of Justice of the European Union gave a preliminary ruling in which it decided that art 132(1)(i) of Council should be interpreted as meaning that activities carried out in circumstances such as those at issue in the main proceedings, consisting in students of a higher education establishment supplying, for consideration and as part of their education, restaurant and entertainment services to third parties, could be regarded as supplies 'closely related' to the principal supply of education and accordingly be exempt from VAT, provided that those services were essential to the students' education and that their basic purpose was not to obtain additional income for that establishment by carrying out transactions in direct competition with those of commercial enterprises liable for VAT, which it was for the national court to determine.

European Commission v Germany

European Union Environment. The Court of Justice of the European Union granted the application by the European Commission for a declaration that by authorising the construction of a coal-fired power station, without conducting an appropriate and comprehensive assessment if its implications, Germany had failed to fulfil its obligations under and of Council Directive (EEC) 92-43.

R (on the application of Holder) v Gedling Borough Council

Town and country planning Permission for development. The defendant local authority granted the interested parties planning permission for a wind turbine. The claimant sought judicial review of that decision. The Administrative Court, in dismissing the application, held that: (i) a planning officer was entitled to advise the authority on what constituted material considerations; (ii) undertakings given by the interested parties as to noise levels were valid and enforceable; and (iii) a senior planning officer had carried out the requisite analysis in determining that an environmental impact assessment was not required.

R (on the application of Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Constitutional law Overseas territory. The Secretary of State decided to create a 'no-take' marine protection area (MPA) in the British Indian Ocean Territory. The claimant sought judicial review of that decision. The Divisional Court, in dismissing the application, held that the Secretary of State had not been motivated by an improper purpose, the consultation process had disclosed relevant matters and the decision was compatible with European Union law.

Elvanite Full Circle Ltd v AMEC Earth & Environmental (UK) Ltd

Building contract Breach. The Technology and Construction Court considered a dispute regarding a planning application for waste recycling on a site. The claimant company contended that, as a result of the defendant company's negligence, it was unable to sell the site for the amount which it had sought. The defendant counterclaimed. The court held that, among other things, owing to the conditions of the contract between the parties, the claimant would be time-barred from bringing the claim. The counterclaim would be allowed in part.

R (on the application of Manchester Ship Canal Company Ltd and another) v Environment Agency

Water and watercourses Flooding. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, in dismissing the appeal of the Environment Agency, upheld a finding that it failed properly to interpret, apply or have regard to its own policy when it classified sluices on the Manchester Ship Canal as 'formal' flood defences on the ground that their 'primary' purpose was flood prevention, with the effect that land, which was owned and proposed for development by the claimants, had been at a higher risk of flooding. The sluices were an integral part of the canal, serving a dual purpose of providing flood defences and navigational purposes for the canal, but the defendant had not been entitled, applying its own policies which distinguished between 'primary' purposes and 'secondary' purposes of flood defences, to find that, by having a dual purpose, the sluices had had dual 'primary' purposes.

Champion v North Norfolk District Council and another

Town and country planning Development consent. The defendant local authority granted planning permission for the development of a site that was in close proximity to the River Wensum; a site of special scientific interest. The authority consulted with Natural England and concluded that an environmental impact assessment and a habitats appropriate assessment were not required as there was no risk of contamination. However, the authority imposed conditions on the planning permission that required the monitoring of water quality and measures for remediation if the river became contaminated. The Administrative Court held that the planning permission would be quashed as it was not rationally possible to impose conditions which pointed to a risk of contamination but, at the same time, adopt the view that there was no relevant risk of pollution.

R (on the application of Prideaux) v Buckinghamshire County Council

Town and country planning Permission for development. The claimant contested the grant of planning permission for a waste facility and access road, the construction of which would have detrimental impact upon the environment. The defendant local authority granted planning permission, and Natural England subsequently granted derogation licences allowing detrimental work to take place. At a later date, the licences were quashed by consent, but not before detrimental work had already taken place in respect of two protected species of bats. The claimant brought judicial review proceedings claiming that the grant of planning permission had been unlawful. Permission to proceed with judicial review was allowed but the claim was dismissed. The local authority was not required to perform the function of Natural England. The authority had not acted contrary to Government policy and it had provided adequate reasons for the granting the permission.

R (on the application of Baker) v Bath and North East Somerset Council and another

Town and country planning Permission for development. The interested party, H Ltd, operated a waste composting site. The claimant lived near the site. Following the quashing of various planning permissions due to the fact that para13 of Sch 2 to the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999, did not properly implement European Union law, with the result that applications required to be screened, H Ltd continued to operate the site in the manner that would have been permitted by them. The Secretary of State made positive screening directions and accordingly, there were before the respondent authority three live applications for planning permission which would, if granted, operate with retrospective effect. The purported environmental statement submitted by H Ltd was inadequate and 14 months later, the authority decided that H Ltd ought to have a further three months to present a complete environmental statement and the issue of whether an enforcement notice should be issued was withdrawn from the agenda. The claimant sought to challenge the decision by way of judicial review proceedings. The Administrative Court, in dismissing the claim, held that there was no duty on the authority under EU law immediately to issue an enforcement notice in the circumstances and, notwithstanding the court's initial misgivings, on the evidence, the authority had reached a fair, reasonable and proportionate decision on the relevant issue.

R (on the application of Catt) v Brighton & Hove City Council

Town and Country Planning Development consent. The defendant local planning authority granted development consent based on an Environmental Impact Assessment screening process that had been conducted in June 2011. The claimant opposed the grant of development consent for nearby land. The claimant contended that the June 2011 screening process had been flawed. The authority admitted to conducting a flawed process and carried out a second screening process that also concluded that the development was not an EIA development. In December 2012, two subsequent planning permissions were granted in respect of the same site. These subsequent permissions had been based on screening processes conducted in August 2012 and November 2012. The claimant issued two applications for judicial review, one concerning the August 2011 permission and the other concerning the two permissions granted in 2012. The essence of both claims was that the screening opinions had been unlawful. Aside from the admitted flaws in the June 2011 screening process, the Administrative Court held that the authority had otherwise conducted impeccable screening processes and the claim for judicial review in respect of the December 2012 permissions would be dismissed. Further, although the August 2011 permission had been granted unlawfully and the second screening opinion could not remedy a flawed process. In the circumstances of the instant case, the court would not exercise its discretion to quash the August 2011 planning permission.