By Richard B Macrory, on 14 August 2013
The First-tier Tribunal (Environment) was set up in 2010 but only in 2013 has it handled a signficiant work-load. Until 2012 appeals against the designation of Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs were heard by a Panel appointed by the Secretary of State. In his 2011 Report, Consistency and Effectiveness – Strengthening the New Tribunal, Professor Macrory, co-director of the Centre, recommended that environmental regulatory appeals, including the designation of NVZs, should in principle be transferred to the new Tribunal, and under regulations made in 2012 (Nitrate Pollution Prevention (Amendment) Regulations 2012), NVZ appeals in England were duly transferred to the new Tribunal. In Wales, appeals are heard by Planning Inspectors whose decisions are binding on government. Designations across England and Wales take place around every 4 years, and last August the Secretary of State proposed the current designations, giving land-owners the right of appeal within 28 days.
Appeals have been heard during 2013, and according the Tribunal, there were 455 appeals in all, with 37.8% (172) allowed, and 12.75% (57) part-allowed. A small number (11) were dealt with by a Consent Order. 31.21% (142) appeals were dismissed, and the remainder were either struck out or withdrawn.