Samuel Smith Brewery loses legal battle over quarry

Yorkshire-based brewer and pub operator Samuel Smith has lost a long-running legal battle in the Supreme Court over the extension of a limestone quarry.

In a ruling delivered on 5 February, the Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK, ruled in favour of the North Yorkshire County Council.

It follows a seven-year legal dispute which has seen the brewery repeatedly overturn planning permission for the extension of the 25-hectare Jackdaw Crag limestone quarry.

The quarry, which is owned by Darrington Quarries Ltd, is on green belt land and is around 1.5km south west of the market town of Tadcaster.

Planning permission to extract limestone from the site was initially granted as far back as July 1948. A planning application to extend the quarry by six hectares, extracting two million tonnes of rock over seven years, was initially submitted in January 2013. It was later dismissed, after opposition by Samuel Smith brewery, due to failings in its environmental impact assessment.

Plans were resubmitted an eventually approved in September 2016. After failing to overturn the decision in the High Court, the brewery took its case to the Court of Appeal. After getting the application rejected once more, North Yorkshire County Council appealed the decision in the UK Supreme Court.

Samuel Smith and neighbouring Oxton Farm argued that the development breached paragraph 90 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This only permits mineral extraction in the green belt providing it preserves the area’s “openness” and does not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. Lawyers also claimed the 100-page planning officer’s report failed to properly examine the effects of mining in the area.

However, in unanimous judgement, the Supreme Court ruled that the report was “impressively comprehensive and detailed”. The five judges also drew a distinction between the visual quality of the land, and its “openness”.

Supreme Court judge Lord Carnwath noted: “On a proper reading of the NPPF in its proper historic context visual quality of landscape is not in itself an essential part of openness for which the Green Belt is protected.

“Openness is not necessarily a statement about the visual qualities of the land, nor does it imply freedom from all forms of development.”

“For these reasons, I would allow the appeal and confirm the order of the High Court dismissing the application.”

David Bowe, corporate director of business and environmental services at North Yorkshire County Council, told the Yorkshire Post: “We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision, which supports our contention that there was no error in our officer’s report. Our planning team is dedicated to thorough and balanced evaluation of all applications.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters