We were very disappointed to learn yesterday that our appeal to reopen the case for permission for a judicial review has been refused. Our case has taken six months, the judge has had it since November. We have no idea why it took so long to throw out our appeal when clearly the judge has failed to read the new evidence and has relied entirely on the responses of previous judgements to shape his short report.
We presented crucial new evidence this time which should have been properly examined at a judicial review. This included evidence by the author of a scientific report which showed Parsons Brinckerhoff, consultants to HCA, had tampered with the report to reflect different results. We also presented evidence that Dry Street Farm which appeared in a redacted form on the agenda of the planning meeting in 2013 as a potential site for wildlife compensation was never available for biodiversity offsetting. On each application to the courts we demonstrated and provided evidence on how planning officers at Basildon Council wilfully manipulated consultation responses from local wildlife groups and refused to comply with Natural England’s request to consult fully with groups like Essex Wildlife Trust, Basildon Natural History Society, Essex Badger Protection Group, Bug Life, Butterfly Conservation, RSPB and similar organisations. We also showed how planning officers claimed to have sought independent advice yet chose an Essex County Council organisation Place Services to provide this, then disregarded some of this organisations advice. We argued that the redacted report given to planning committee members was inadequate for them to make an accurate decision and that local wildlife groups could not comment on the merits, or otherwise, of offsetting sites that they didn’t know about. Our legal representatives maintain that EU law on Environmental Impact Assessments has been broken in respect of information and consultation.
To add insult to injury we are being asked to pay costs to Basildon Council of £2,153.40. Our barrister argued that costs were not appropriate in a case where a matter of public interest was being brought before the courts. You may ask if the residents are to receive compensation from Basildon Council for the loss of an important community asset Dry Street Pastures, Local wildlife Site. After all a large portion of our wildlife is now to go to Runwell to a site conveniently owned by the HCA.
Sadly we have reached the end of the road in terms of legal action. We could take a case to the European Court but this would take a long time and would not prevent the development moving forward. Phase one which will be built near to Dry Street will now begin. As a community group we will still bring you information and represent your views on any development on our green spaces. We will fight phase two of the development on Dry Street Pastures in any way we can. We will also ensure any further development in the area, including the hotel on the golf course in Kingswood and land further along Dry street is strenuously opposed.
We have succeeded in delaying the development for two years and this may have some long term effects with regard to phases two and three which will now be affected by the next economic crisis. Our biggest success is becoming a community group to be reckoned with. Thank you all for your support and let’s keep our strong community spirit going.
The GAG2011 Commitee