Village campaigners vowed to continue their long-running battle against an industrial development near Fakenham, after appeal judges stripped them of their recent High Court victory.

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The proposals to extend the Crisp Malting factory at Great Ryburgh with two 3,000-tonne silos and a lorry park were originally given the go-ahead by North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC’s) planning committee in September 2011.

Those plans were thwarted, however, when local campaigner Matthew Champion, a member of the Ryburgh Village Action Group, won a ruling in May from the High Court, forcing the district council to rethink its decision.

At the time, deputy judge James Dingemans quashed the planning permission because of what he found was an “inconsistency” in the approach taken by the council’s development control committee.

But the planning approval has now been restored after Lord Justice Richards – one of the country’s most experienced planning judges – overturned the High Court ruling yesterday at London’s Court of Appeal.

Council officials welcomed the news – while Mr Champion said the scheme was “an environmental disaster waiting to happen” and he would now be willing to take the case to the European Court.

Mr Champion, who lives in Fakenham Road, Great Ryburgh, said: “It’s very, very disappointing and something that the village felt really strongly about.

“We feel we have been steam-rollered by a big business and the interest in profit has been put before the interests of the public and the environment.

“These plans have the potential to seriously impact the Wensum Valley and to allow this sort of thing to go ahead without undertaking an environmental impact assessment is potentially an environmental disaster waiting to happen.”

He added: “The fight will continue. The next option is the European Court. It will be a decision made by the entire village but the strength of opposition is as such that it is a real possibility.”

Lord Justice Richards ruled there was no inconsistency in the planning committee’s conclusion that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was not required, and that the permission granted must be subject to conditions requiring testing of water for pollutants, and a scheme for remediating any contamination.

He said: “In my judgment, there was no inconsistency between the two positions adopted by the council. They were sequential and separate aspects of the committee’s decision-making process and reasoning.

“It was the subject of a vote by which the committee indicated its agreement with the officers’ view that the development was not likely to have significant effects on the Site of Special Scientific Interest or the Special Area of Conservation.”

He added: “I also consider that the committee was given sufficient information to enable it to reach a proper conclusion on all relevant matters and that the conclusion on all relevant matters and that the conclusion it reached was reasonably open on the materials before it.”

According to Crisp Malting officials, the new silos would result in a reduction in the amount of HGV movements at the site, saving almost 5,000 miles a year, and the lorry park would save almost 2,000 more lorry trips.

NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick welcomed yesterday’s ruling. He said: “It has not only validated the original decision of the NNDC development committee which, on the advice of our officers, gave approval to the original planning application; it has also completely vindicated our determination to pursue this case to the extent that we have.

“The decision is good news for the local economy and the agricultural community as a whole.”

1 comment

  • Have to feel a great deal of disappointment for the immediate community that will be most affected by this latest twist in this saga. Councillor FitzPatrick has continually nailed his flag to the Crisp mast from the day he stood up at the Development Committee and effectively delivered the whip to the assembled Councillors. Whilst the Councillor may claim this is good news for the local economy and the agricultural community as a whole, it is not surprising in the least that he fails to mention the community that will suffer most by this development - the parish of Great Ryburgh. Of course that is not his NNDC ward.

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    The Green Owl

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

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