OEP files written submissions ahead of Supreme Court hearing

The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) has filed written submissions in our intervention in the appeal of R (Finch) v Surrey County Council. This is ahead of the Supreme Court hearing that appeal on 21 and 22 June 2023.

The appeal concerns a judicial review of the grant of planning permission for new oil well development at a site in Surrey. The Supreme Court will consider whether Surrey County Council acted lawfully by not requiring that the developer’s environmental statement includes an assessment of the impact of downstream or ‘scope 3’ greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the future combustion of oil produced by the development.

We do not take sides between the parties in the case and have not made submissions on the underlying facts of the appeal. Rather, our submissions highlight our concern that the previous court decisions in this case leave the law on environmental impact assessment (EIA) in an uncertain position. This potentially has adverse effects on sound environmental decision making, so risks undermining environmental protection and improvement. The OEP argues for the Supreme Court to take the opportunity presented by this appeal to clarify the law on assessing the indirect effects of developments in general, and their ‘scope 3’ greenhouse gas emissions in particular. We submit that this can be done by taking a principled approach to the meaning of the term ‘indirect effect’ in the relevant EIA legislation.

For further information, please see the document available by clicking on the blue button on this page.