Andrew Baker, our Managing Director, is soon to publish a review of the recent court cases that have addressed air quality and how nitrogen deposition should be treated by the Habitats Regulations Assessment process. His paper will soon be published in the Habitats Regulations Journal http://www.dtapublications.co.uk/journal.
The cases all involve Wealden District Council and concern the effects of traffic pollution upon Ashdown Forest SPA/SAC. Together the cases will have far reaching implications for air quality assessments and how the impacts upon European sites (SPAs, SACs and Ramsar sites) are addressed. In the most recent case Natural England was heavily criticised for providing flawed advice which led the judge to conclude that an HRA of a local plan had been ‘vitiated by Natural England’s plainly erroneous advice’ that had resulted in a ‘clear breach of Article 6(3)’
The cases have called into question the validity of some key guidance on air quality assessments, the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DRMB) and AQTAG21 the latter having previous been widely used by Natural England, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.
We will publish the full text of the article following publication in the Journal.