Planning & Environment

Interesting discussion at the Brodies’ seminar this morning. The topic was the time limit for submitting a legal challenge to a grant of planning permission.

In Scotland, if permission is granted by the local authority, the petition for judicial review can be dismissed if there is mora, taciturnity and acquiescence by the petitioner. That involves factors such as knowledge of the decision, delay, and silence in the face of actions by other parties. It very much depends on the circumstances – petitions have been dismissed on grounds of mora, taciturnity and acquiescence after 19 weeks and 7.5 months, but not after 3 months and 16 months.

In contrast, in England the application for judicial review must be submitted promptly and within 3 months at the latest. And in both jurisdictions, if the permission is granted by the Minister, the time limit is only 6 weeks.

The lack of certainty is not helpful to developers and their funders, or to objectors considering a legal challenge. But is there an appetite for change? Attention is starting to be paid to barriers to economic development – is this lack of certainty holding back development?

This is an issue to watch – as Robert’s blog notes, caselaw suggests that a definite time limit might be required for cases involving European law issues, such as environmental assessment, so reform may be in the offing.

Neil Collar