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New planning clause is ‘draconian,’ says MP  

North Devon MP Nick Harvey is demanding an explanation from Government Minister Hazel Blears as to why a “draconian” clause has been slipped into the Planning Bill just before the summer recess.

“This new clause – section 155 – will effectively prevent local residents from making a claim for compensation against a development that creates a range of nuisances and ends up blighting their lives.,” he said.

“Local councils and others will be able to force compliance with nuisances that are defined in statute, but this only covers a narrow range of problems and other issues will be ignored..”

There are a range of statutory nuisances covering fumes and noise emanating from premises that have an effect on neighbouring properties, and these are defined by reference to scientific measurements of particulates or sound levels. The levels at which these are set is, to an extent arbitrary, and further research might drastically affect the threshhold at which enforcement could be undertaken. It also ignores the sensitivity of different individuals to various forms of nuisance.

“Statutory regulations can be flawed when new factors appear: for instance the normal rules might not be valid in resolving the problem identified in other parts of the country where the low frequency but continuous noise from wind turbine blades have driven people out of their homes, or where “flicker” (reflection from rotating turbine blades) prevents people from benefiting from the full use of their garden at certain times.

“This new section of the Bill, bounced on Parliament just before the recess, is ill- thought out, gives ‘carte blanche’ indemnity to the developer, and deprives individuals and families of a right of redress. If the Government persist with this legislation I am sure it will be open to challenge under the Human Rights Act and, on a local scale, a mountain of legal case work will build up as the injustices mount up.

“The whole Planning Act is profoundly anti-democratic in the way that it reduces the influence that local communities can have on development in their area. This new Section now robs them of their rights to compensation when it all goes terribly wrong.”

“We cannot afford to legislate in haste only to repent at leisure when so much is at stake,” Nick Harvey concluded.


31 July 2008

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