Watchdog asks Lords to rule on Bluestone development

Ecovillage Network UK office at
Thu Aug 25 18:33:46 BST 2005

As diehard Diggers will remember this is the enormous commercial 
development allowed by the unelected Pembrokeshire Coast National Park 
authority - at the same time that they Torned down Tony Wrench and Jane 
Faith's sustainable roundhouse.

see also
Appeal Court backs Bluestone plan - Wednesday, 20 July, 2005
abd letters to Western Telegraph below

Watchdog asks lords to RULE ON BLUESTONE. INDEPENDENT law expert lends 

The Council for National Parks (1) has today announced that it is to ask 
the House of Lords (2) to hear a final appeal on whether or not the 
Bluestone holiday village (3) can lawfully be built in the Pembrokeshire 
Coast National Park (4).

Mary Taylor, CNP’s Vice Chairman and lead Trustee in Wales, said “The 
Trustees unanimously decided to ask the Law Lords to hear this appeal, 
because the long term protection of all the National Parks in England 
and Wales is in the public interest.  Our case centres on the legality 
of using the promise of local jobs to override environmental protection, 
which is against the legal statutes set up by Parliament to protect 
National Parks.  We have been encouraged to take this step by our 
members and local people who do not believe that a large-scale 
development like Bluestone is justified in the countryside of the 
National Park.  Our postbag shows that plenty of people in Pembrokeshire 
and in the rest of Wales want the Law Lords to look at this issue.”

Professor Malcolm Grant (6), a leading law academic, has offered his 
support for CNP’s attempts to clarify the law surrounding major 
developments in National Parks.  He said “In my view this is a very 
important public interest test case, and it needs to be heard by the Law 
Lords.  Planning law is meant to provide a structured approach to 
planning decision taking, and to give certainty to developers and to the 
public about what can and cannot be built.  The Bluestone decision is in 
danger of undermining the way the planning system is meant to work”.

Kate Ashbrook, CNP’s Chairman, said “CNP is doing what it was 
established to do – fight for the protection of the National Parks.  CNP 
exists because legislation alone cannot provide sufficient environmental 
protection for the National Parks.  Bluestone is a real example of where 
the protection system has broken down.  And if Bluestone goes ahead, it 
will set a precedent for similar developments to be approved in all 
National Parks.

“We are exercising the democratic right of any organisation or 
individual to challenge a planning permission.  As there is no third 
party right of appeal in England or Wales on planning approvals, the 
courts offer the only avenue for us to pursue our challenge.  We are 
funding the appeal with money raised from supporters specifically for 
this purpose, not with CNP core funds or taxpayers’ money.

“We are not trying to delay the start of the Bluestone development, but 
to stop it altogether. The wheels of the legal justice system turn 
slowly; but at each stage we have pressed for the case to be heard as 
quickly as possible, so we have moved through the legal system faster 
than the great majority of cases.

“CNP works across England and Wales at national, regional and local 
levels, and our work is based on 70 years’ experience of working on 
National Park issues.  Our Council of membership comprises over 40 
national and local organisations and individuals with a broad range of 
interests, including conservation organisations such as the Woodland 
Trust, user groups such as the British Mountaineering Council and land 
owning organisations such as the National Trust.  We have Trustees as 
well as staff based in Wales, and we take advice from a special advisory 
committee on Welsh issues.  We have a track record of working with 
businesses and government at the national and local level.

“For CNP the priority is to get the law on major developments in 
National Parks straightened out once and for all, and that is what we 
are asking the Law Lords to do.”

Notes to Editors

1.          CNP is the national charity that works to protect and 
enhance the National Parks of England and Wales, and areas that merit 
National Park status, and promote understanding and quiet enjoyment of 
them for the benefit of all.

2.          CNP’s petition to the House of Lords has been lodged today.

3.          The part of the Bluestone development in the Pembrokeshire 
Coast comprises 340 timber lodges, a brand new “village”, sports club 
and sewage-treatment works.

4.          On 17 December 2004 the High Court judge Mr Justice Jack 
held that the decision to grant permission for the Bluestone development 
was lawful.  The Court of Appeal dismissed CNP’s appeal against the High 
Court’s judgment on 20 July 2005.

5.          The Park Authority’s development control committee approved 
the outline planning application on 28 January 2004.

6.       Professor Malcolm Grant CBE is a barrister, an environmental 
lawyer, academic and public servant. He is President and Provost – the 
principal academic and administrative officer of University College 
London – and was Professor of Land Economy and a Fellow of Clare 
College, University of Cambridge (1991–2003) and was Head of the 
Department of Land Economy (1993–2001) and Pro-Vice Chancellor 
(2002–2003).   He is an Associate Member of Landmark Chambers and 
consultant editor of the Encyclopaedia of Planning Law and Practice.

Contact:  Ruth Chambers, Head of Policy, 020 7924 4077 ext. 222 / 07769 
676 397


Park officers recommended Bluestone's refusal

DEAR EDITOR, - I read with interest the recent letters from David 
Lort-Phillips and Miss A. Morris, attacking the stance of the Council 
for National Parks over Bluestone.

I certainly do not wish to add fuel to the fire, but as a member of the 
Friends of the National Park, may I point out that the decision to go 
ahead with the development was taken against the advice of the National 
Park Authority's own professional officers.

They strongly recommended that the application should be refused, 
because of the damage it would cause to the National Park and of the 
precedent that it would set and which could adversely affect both this 
National Park and other National Parks of the UK.

GRAHAM MORGAN 20 Style Park Haverfordwest.

Persistent campaign by CNP `misconceived'

DEAR EDITOR, - Last week's letters for and against the ruling, (Mike 
Shaw and Mary Sinclair respectively) focus on key issues of the role of 
National Park, local democracy, economic development-v-conservation.

Mary Sinclair, as a local, has more right than most to give an opinion. 
This is, above all, an issue to be settled by local planning process. 
That is why, in my view, the persistent campaign by CNP (Council for 
National Parks), costing both sides so much, has been so misconceived.

As a local, I agree with Mike Shaw and not Mary Sinclair. But I would 
far rather hear the case against Bluestone from the latter rather than 
from someone sitting in a remote office, obsessed with principle, but 
woefully short of practical understanding of where in our backyard the 
balance should be struck between conservation and economic development.

The National Park was created to conserve the coastline and inland 
waterway. Part only of this project lies in an unspectacular arable 
field a few hundred yards from the Park boundary and nowhere near any 
coast. Its buildings, and, just as importantly, the traffic to and from 
it will not have an adverse effect on the coast's essential glories. As 
locals we see the truth of this every day.

Look on the bright side for Heaven's sake. Many visitors to Bluestone 
will not only support the rural businesses which enhance the Park, but 
may also enjoy its beauties so much they will wish to join Mike Shaw as 
members of the Friends of the National Park.

DAVID LORT-PHILLIPS Knowles Farm, Lawrenny.

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