Incinerator tests interface between planning and IPC

The relationship between planning controls and specific pollution regulation has long been a matter of some legal complexity. Last year's draft Planning Policy Guidance note from the Department of the Environment included the cryptic observation that "the dividing line between pollution and planning controls is not always clear cut" - and anyone looking for simple black and white rules of separation will not find them in the High Court's latest ruling on the subject. Nevertheless, the judgement in Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council v Secretary of State for the Environment and Northumbrian Water Group (Queen's Bench Division, High Court, 29 September 1993) provides a valuable contemporary analysis of principles to be applied.

The case concerned a proposed Northumbrian Water clinical waste incinerator near Gateshead. A local planning inquiry was held in 1991 and the Inspector recommended a refusal of outline planning permission. The recommendation was rejected by the Secretary of State, and it was his decision that was challenged by the planning authority.

In his report, the Inspector had concluded that while the incinerator could be built to comply with variou

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