Planning permission for new crematorium on the edge of Bierton has been revoked, after a rival project’s developer sought a judicial review over provision for great crested newts.
Westerleigh recently secured planning approval for another crematorium at Watermead in Aylesbury, and requested a judicial review for the Bierton site, where building work has already begun.
The High Court found that the officer report to the planning committee did not correctly deal with information relating to the protected newt species.
The judgement said that information should have been sought from Natural England, the licensing body for works which could affect the newts, on the likelihood of a licence being granted in the context of a similar proposal for a crematorium at Watermead, before the Bierton application was determined by Aylesbury Vale District Council.
In review documentation seen my this newspaper an ecology report reads: “The removal of the small areas of hedgerow could result in the legislation protecting great crested newts and their habitats from beinf contravened, in the absence of appropriate licensing and mitigation measures.
“This assessment has been made on the assumption that great crested newts are present within water bodies within a 500m radius of the site.
“On site mitigation and enhancement measures are proposed as part of the report to demonstrate how the status of great crested newts will not be compromised. The creation of ponds, woodland, shrub planting, hedgerow planting, species-rich grassland creation and hibernacula creation will improve the terrestrial habitats presnt on site in comparison with those that exist at present.”
The two other grounds for challenge brought by Westerleigh failed and were dismissed by the judge.
The Bierton application was submitted by the Chilterns Crematorium Committee (of which AVDC is part) and both the Crematorium Committee and AVDC as the planning authority will now need to consider the detail of the judgement before deciding the next steps.
This newspaper contacted a Westerleigh spokesman who said that the firm would take time to look over the ruling, and would comment next week.
More to follow