Serious questions have been raised about whether the huge York Central development will break the law under planning rules designed to protect the environment.
Climate activitist Geoff Beacon has alerted City of York Council to the potential breach of the law after studying the proposal for 100 acres of land behind York Railway Station.
And he has concluded that they amount to a “climate disaster” that contravenes national planning guidelines.
In an objection lodged to the planning application – also detailed on his Brussels Blog – Mr Beacon writes that the council could be sued if York Central goes ahead.
The rules that govern planning in the UK are set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.
This states that we must not ruin the lives of future generations, adding:
At a very high level, the objective of sustainable development can be summarised as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Under the plans to develop York Central up to 2,500 homes would be built, as well as a hotel, leisure facilities, multi-storey car parks and offices.
According to Mr Beacon’s analysis York Central would create very large emissions of greenhouse gases. Such emissions are causing our climate to change to the detriment of future generations.
“This means according to the NPPF the proposed development is probably illegal,” he writes.
Compromising our future
Scientists have estimated the quantity of greenhouse gases that can be emitted before the average global temperature rises by 1.5°C – widely regarded as a dangerous threshold to cross.
According to his calculations, these figures allow each person on the planet a carbon dioxide equivalent budget of around 57 tonnes.
Because of the emissions from construction and cars at York Central each resident would exceed their budget within two years.
Mr Beacon writes:
They will be “compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
This means the proposed York Central Development is contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework and that means it is probably illegal.
He has written to York’s chief legal officer pointing out the worst-case scenario – that the current plans for York Central get the green light from planners, work begins – and the development is declared illegal at judicial review.
That could mean the council was sued by the developers for the costs incurred – likely to run into millions of pounds.
In response, Mike Slater, assistant director for planning at City of York Council, said: “As the local planning authority, we consider every application against local and national law and frameworks.
“The York Central planning application has been assessed by officers, and will be considered by planning committee on Monday 25 March.”