Air Pollution – Wales

A group of Port Talbot residents concerned about an increase in levels of PM10 resulting from the construction and operation of a power station have lost their court battle.

They had challenged a decision by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to grant consent for the development of the 350 megawatt power station in their area.

The residents had objected on the basis that emissions from the power station itself and from additional associated traffic movement, together with existing high pollution levels in the area, was likely to have a detrimental effect on human health.

But the Court held that the consent and planning permission granted by the Secretary of State, to allow the construction of the power station, was insufficient on its own to bring the power station into operation.

It would also need a permit from the Environment Agency under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations, and it would be for the EA to consider whether or not to grant a permit to operate on the basis of a number of factors including predicted pollution emission levels.

Although the Court acknowledged that air quality is capable of being a material planning consideration, it was their view that there already exists a regime to ensure the proper control of emissions from such operations.

The judge held that unless the Secretary of State considered that excessive pollution could not be controlled from the development, it was appropriate to leave the matter to the regulator, therefore the Court found that under the circumstances it was appropriate for the Secretary of State to grant consent and planning permission for the development of the power station leaving to the regulator the issue of controlling the emission of pollutants via the Pollution Prevention and control permit process.

The judgment of the High Court together may be accessed via this link.

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