The government’s move to set up a special planning court is welcome

Joey Gardiner

The threat of judicial review is one that hangs over many major projects, imposing delays and costs to much-needed development. To that extent the government’s move this week to set up a special planning court to expedite such cases, to be operational before the summer, is welcome.

Too often objectors to schemes use the judicial review process simply to hold projects up while they gather support for their campaign, in the full knowledge that their challenge will ultimately be unsuccessful.

If the reforms announced this week, which will essentially work to pile extra costs on those appealing unsuccessfully, make campaign groups think harder about launching patently weak JRs, then it will be helpful. But caution is required: if these changes are perceived to simply be the “iron hand” of the state attempting to clamp down on genuine grievances, then the changes could only increase resentment and opposition.

To work the new court must be well-resourced,  but it also has to perceived to be fair to all who use it, not simply a vehicle for government to get its own way.

Joey Gardiner, assistant editor