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Right to Peace and Quiet Prevails in Scrap Yard Dispute

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

In a case which involved striking a balance between the individual right to a peaceful life and the benefits of commerce, a company has failed in a High Court bid to win retrospective planning permission for a metal recycling facility in a rural area.

The owners of the land had, through the passage of time, acquired an established right to use the site for car breaking and storage. However, in more recent years, the use of the site had intensified in that vehicles were being noisily crushed and large amounts of metal, other than just cars, were being imported for recycling.

The local authority refused retrospective planning permission for the change of use and that decision was upheld by a planning inspector. Noise from the site could be heard at a considerable distance and its intensified use had led to a further reduction in the remoteness and tranquillity of an area of outstanding natural beauty.

In dismissing the company’s challenge to the inspector’s decision, the Court ruled that he had made no error of law. He was correct to find that a new use was being made of the site which required planning permission. The inspector had also been justifiably concerned about the impact on a local bridleway, which had been resurfaced and used by large numbers of industrial vehicles.

In another recent case, the Supreme Court ruled that a speedway stadium operator had not acquired over time (‘by prescription’ in legal terminology) the right to make noise which would otherwise constitute a nuisance. Had the noise actually constituted a nuisance for a period of 20 years, the right might have been established, but the Court ruled that since it had not constituted a nuisance for the whole period, the right could not be said to have been created by prescription.

If you are suffering from noise or other nuisance because the use of land near you has changed, contact us for advice regarding your options. Failing to take action to stop a nuisance may eventually lead to the loss of the right to prevent it.

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