Keith Parkins | 04.02.2002 16:53
From the crowing of the local councillors one would think that
some amazing victory had been won, that a landmark judgement had
been handed down by Solomon. Had that been the case, why crow
over a victory over the local community? The truth was somewhat
different: the judge made no ruling as the case was not placed
before him, the case was settled out of court, with a minor
victory to the local community, and as for the œ20,000 costs an
entirely fictitious figure to make it look as though the
councillors had achieved something.
August 2000. TAG were granted Outline Planning Consent. As part
of that consent around two dozen planning conditions had to be
met. Planning was then to be granted as various conditions were
August 2001. TAG applied for consent to fix the runway lengths.
This required discharge of conditions 16 & 17 regarding safety.
Rushmoor commissioned two ex-CAA inspectors to look at safety.
The consultants made the point that they were only looking at air
safety, not ground safety, that they were not qualified to look
at ground safety. They also stated that with various obstacles,
and other problems, the proposed runway did not meet CAA safety
requirement. Rushmoor approved the planning application.
October 2001. Application made to the High Court in London for
leave to take a judicial review. Grounds: Rushmoor had
recognised safety to be a material planning consideration, then
failed to consider ground safety, Rushmoor had misdirected
Keith Parkins and his legal team submitted 185 pages of
documentation to the court is support of their case. Rushmoor
submitted one page as defence. TAG submitted an identical one
page, the only difference, one headed Rushmoor, the other TAG.
The judge declined to take the case. The reasons are not known as
the judge is not required to give any. He just declared himself
satisfied with Rushmoor. An educated guess: In their defence
Rushmoor stated they were yet to discharge conditions 16 & 17, ie
both sides were now arguing the same point (more or less). Prior
to this about-turn defence Rushmoor had declared all safety
studies had been carried out (a statement that was blatantly
Keith Parkins applied for leave to make an oral appeal to the
court, which was accepted by the court.
January 2002. Keith Parkins opened negotiations with Rushmoor.
If they were going to discharge conditions 16 and 17 let's
establish some ground rules. Rushmoor were asked to commission
an independent study of ground safety to include societal risk.
At the last minute Rushmoor refused. Instead they offered to
seek independent advice. Both parties then signed a Consent
Order (ie agreed to withdraw from seeking a judicial review) with
Rushmoor agreeing to seek independent advice before discharge of
conditions 16 & 17. A minor victory for the local community on
whose behalf Keith Parkins was fighting.
Contrast Rushmoor's refusal to agree to an independent safety
study with the comments of Roland Dibbs (the Tory councillor
whose ward is most at risk of a crash):
'This should give all residents confidence in the council's
planning procedures, particularly when we are dealing with
measures affecting safety and quality of life.'
No ruling was made as to the merits of the case as it did not go
before the judge for a judicial review. If Rushmoor were so
convinced of the merits of their actions why were they so keen to
prevent a judicial review?
Council officials claimed they had been obliged to carry out a
large amount of work. If production of one sheet of paper is a
lot of work it gives an idea of their normal work load.
As for costs, entirely fictitious. No cost would have been
incurred if Rushmoor had behaved properly in the first place.
The figure of œ20,000 was not going to be incurred if there was
on the table an out-of-court settlement. In any case what is
œ20,000 compared with the loss of life of one member of the local
community in the event of a crash?
In summary, a settlement was reached whereby all parties
consented to withdraw from the judicial review. The basis of the
settlement was that Rushmoor are to seek 'independent advice', ie
Rushmoor cannot grant TAG planning consent for the runway
configuration requested by TAG until such time as independent
advice has been sought. Were Rushmoor not to seek independent
advice, or not carry out what they specified in their defence to
the court, ie to carry on regardless, there would be more than
sufficient grounds to take Rushmoor back to court.
The situation is being closely monitored to ensure that Rushmoor
comply with the Consent Order.
TAG Aviation are wishing to construct a business aviation airport at Farnborough. It will be a key component of globalisation. It is also linked to the arms trade.