‘Defer, defer: to the…’ Planning Appeals Commissioner?

Echoes of The Mikado (1885) could well have been heard in the corridors of the Royal Courts of Justice recently as the High Court in Belfast considered a somewhat unusual application for judicial review by the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) to quash one of its own decisions.

The case arose out of an application for planning permission to site a wind turbine on Beltonanean Mountain in Co. Tyrone.  The application was refused by the local Council and the applicant then appealed this decision to the PAC.  His appeal was dismissed by a sole Commissioner.

The Commissioner subsequently visited the site and formed the belief that her decision had not correctly identified the site and that there had been material errors.  On foot of this, the Chief Commissioner concluded that the decision was unsustainable. 

Paradoxically, the only mechanism to address this was for the PAC to seek a judicial review of the PAC. The High Court acceded to their application and quashed the impugned decision – an option not readily apparent from Gilbert & Sullivan’s libretto!

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Turbine
Case note: In Re Kells, Chief Commissioner of the Planning Appeals Commission (Judicial Review) [2018] NIQB 84

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