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Policy causes planning delays, say opponents of JR changes

Lawyers and environmental groups have been speaking out against the PM’s plans to reduce the amount of judicial reviews.

David Cameron has criticised the increasing numbers of judicial reviews for holding up major infrastructure projects, and announced that he is going to clamp down on judicial reviews by making them more expensive, reducing chances to appeal, and cutting the appeal period.

As reported earlier on, industry trade organisation the Environmental Services Association support the PM’s proposals. However, opponents of the proposals believe planning delays are caused by goverment policies, rather than problems with the current judicial review system.

Lawyers claimed in order to speed up processing appeals more court resources were needed. In a blogpost in the New Statesman, one barrister said: “If Cameron wants the JR process to take less time he should open some more courts and appoint some more staff”.

Adam Chapman, a partner at the law firm Kingsley Napley, said in the Guardian: “The real delays in the system arise at the courts once cases have been brought, and the answer is to resource the courts better, not to set up an unfair barrier that would not discriminate between so-called pointless cases and the valid cases that are brought to ensure that public bodies act lawfully.”

A spokesman for UKWIN, the anti-incineration campaign group, told MRW that changes to the planning system had given rise to the need to settle more matters through the courts. “If, as was suggested by the Conservatives in their Open Source Planning Green Paper, communities were given an automatic right of appeal (equivalent to applicants), then there would have been greater parity and more justice - and therefore less need to use the legal system, because the planning system would have been more robust.”

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