Client Story

Clarification over the powers available to statutory bodies under the Housing and Planning Act

31st August 2022

An arable and livestock farmer’s land was the subject of surveying work as part of preparations to build a tunnel under Stonehenge. Initially, geo-technical surveys were conducted, the results of which the farmer was dissatisfied with. Subsequently, Highways England made an application to the Secretary of State to undertake pumping tests as part of the surveying works. The consequence of such tests for the farmer included the discharge of substantial volumes of groundwater onto the land.

The farmer had two key concerns about the work; firstly, whether Highways England was able to rely on s.172 to access the land, and  secondly, whether the discharge of substantial amounts of groundwater onto his land was a permissible activity covered by the power to conduct the survey.

We therefore issued judicial review proceedings on behalf of the farmer and represented him in a two-day judicial review hearing before the High Court. This included making legal arguments about the interaction between the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and the Planning Act because there had previously been no law that explicitly covered the interaction between the two statutes.

The farmer was ultimately unsuccessful in their application for judicial review. However, the case has provided legal clarity in this area, which will benefit other landowners in similar situations.

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