Great Ryburgh villagers win lorry park court case

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Residents of a Norfolk village have won a High Court judicial review to block plans to expand a maltings with a lorry park and barley silos.

In 2011 Crisp Maltings Group Ltd won permission from North Norfolk District Council for the development at Great Ryburgh near Fakenham.

But villagers appealed and James Dingemans QC, acting as Deputy High Court Judge, quashed the decision.

The council said it was "disappointed".

Judge Dingemans said councillors should re-consider and decide whether there was a risk of pollutants entering the River Wensum.

'Inconsistent and irrational'

He said - in a written ruling published after a hearing in April - if councillors thought that there was a risk, then environmental assessments should be carried out.

The judge said the river was a site of special scientific interest and a European Union designated special area of conservation.

He said Matthew Champion, a member of the Ryburgh Village Action Group, had launched a legal challenge after pollution concerns were raised.

The judge said the council had decided not to order environmental assessments but, at the same time, had ordered water quality testing to ensure pollutants were not contaminating the river.

Mr Champion said that decision was "inconsistent and irrational". The judge agreed, saying councillors could not "rationally" adopt both positions at once.

Mr Champion said: "This is a great victory for local democracy. We have always maintained that this development was ill thought out and potentially an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

'Safeguard major employer'

"Our views have been wholly vindicated. North Norfolk District Council has simply been pursuing a political agenda to support big business at the direct expense of the environment and the householders of North Norfolk."

David Thompson, chief executive of Anglia Maltings (Holdings) Ltd - which owns Crisp Maltings, said the ruling was critical of the council's planning advice and did not look at the merits of the application.

"The judge has not given any opinion on what we want to do," he said.

He said the firm would be studying the judgement before deciding on a new application.

Tom FitzPatrick, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said: "The proposed lorry park would have resulted in a significant reduction in HGV movement through the village, thus reducing carbon emissions and helped to safeguard the future of a major local employer.

"We are pleased that the judge has not actually refused permission, but instructed that the matter be passed back to the Development Committee to consider afresh and this is what will now happen."

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