All work must stop and buildings must be removed at the unlawful Quinn Glass plant at Elton, near Chester, a High Court judge has ruled. The decision that Chester City Council must take enforcement action against the plant, which does not have planning permission, has pleased case claimants and rivals Ardagh Glass.
Ardagh brought a court case in February to force the council to take action because, it said, it constituted unfair competition.
In his judgement on 8 April Judge David Mole said: It is common ground that the Quinn Glass development is currently unlawful.
It seems to me that there are pressing reasons for taking enforcement action now.
He ordered enforcement notices to be issued by the council, and its successors, within 14 days. This requires "the removal of the Quinn Glass buildings and works and the cessation of the Quinn Glass activities".
Judge Mole also said: The councils have made errors of law in their consideration of whether it is expedient to issue an enforcement notice on the Quinn Glass development.
Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council Mike Jones said the High Court enforcement order would be carried out within the correct time-scale.
He said: We are delighted that Judge Mole agreed with the planning authoritys long-held contention that it has the jurisdiction to deal in retrospect with the current planning application from Quinn Glass.
The councils Strategic Planning Board will consider the case after the judgement has been examined. Jones said: We now anticipate considering this complex application based strictly on its planning merits.
We are, however, keeping all our options open. The court has made a crucial finding as to when it considers substantial completion of the Quinn Glass plant occurred. We have sought leave to appeal this funding if considered necessary.
In a statement Quinn Glass said Ardagh must be disappointed with the outcome because: The Judge dismissed Ardaghs argument that under EC law planning permission cannot be granted retrospectively and did not support their demands for an immediate stop notice.
Quinn Glass also said it believes this judgment now clears the way for a determination of its current planning application and looks forward to having this matter finally resolved.
But Ardagh finance director Keith Swindell said: This exceptional move by the High Court to require enforcement action against an unlawful glass facility is the right decision for the UK planning system and the UK glass industry, as well as for the many local residents who have been adversely affected over the last four years.
"We are also pleased that the court has found that the Secretary of State can only grant retrospective planning consent for unlawful developments requiring an Environmental Impact Assessment in exceptional circumstances. There is very clear guidance from the EC Commission on what constitutes exceptional circumstances and it is clear that no exceptional circumstances exist at Elton. We believe that a proper planning inquiry, initiated by the Secretary of State on the current Quinn application, will demonstrate this clearly.
Read previous stories on this case by MRW:
High Court to decide fate of Quinn Glass recycling plant
Planning consent saga highlighted in Parliamentary questions
Still no verdict on Quinn Glass plant case