Yesterday 19th February saw the publication of the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which included the widely anticipated clarification to Paragraph 177. This now confirms that the presumption in favour of sustainable development is retained for developments requiring Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA), provided that an ‘Appropriate Assessment’ has determined that there will be no harmful effects on any European site (SPAs, SACs, etc.).
This has been a hot topic since last year’s People Over Wind decision from the CJEU (C323-17), which ruled that mitigation could not be taken into consideration at the earlier, screening stage of HRA. Under the previous wording of the NPPF, this effectively disengaged the presumption in favour from vast areas of the Country where sites were caught in strategic mitigation catchments.