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Bat challenge to housing growth rejected in South Devon

The High Court has rejected a challenge to the adoption of the Teignbridge Local Plan which promotes substantial housing growth in areas affected by the South Hams SAC, which hosts the largest population of Greater Horseshoe Bats in the UK. The Local Plan requires bespoke bat mitigation plans to be approved at the planning application stage and envisages an over-arching "landscape scale" SPD will be jointly prepared by South Devon LPAs to co-ordinate bat mitigation strategies but does not impose a moratorium on housing until the SPD is in place. The Local Plan was challenged by Abbotskerswell Parish Council on the grounds that the approach to bat mitigation was in breach of the Habitats Directive because there was insufficient certainty at the plan-making stage that there would be no adverse effects on the integrity of the SAC and also on SEA consultation grounds. Mrs Justice Lang rejected the challenge (and refused an application for interim relief to suspend the relevant policies of the Local Plan) on 25 November 2014 but reserved the reasons for her decision to a later date. Michael Bedford acted for Teignbridge District Council, Jenny Wigley acted for Abbotskerswell Parish Council and Richard Kimblin acted for the Secretary of State.