High Court in favour of marine licence decision for Brighton Marina development following Judicial Review.

A decision by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to grant a marine licence relating to development in Brighton Marina has been upheld in the High Court following a Judicial Review.

On Friday 23 June the Hon. Mr Justice Holgate handed down his judgement at the High Court, London, following a hearing which took place on 22 and 23 March 2017. In doing so he concluded the MMO had fulfilled its obligation under section 69(1) of Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (the 2009 Act) ‘admirably’.

In bringing a Judicial Review lawyers acting on behalf of a local resident challenged the way in which the MMO reached its decision in February 2016 to grant a marine licence for phase 2 of the development under section 71 of the 2009 Act.

Lawyers claimed that MMO had acted unlawfully in giving consent to the Brighton Marina Company Limited whose subsidiary, the Outer Harbour Development Company Partnership LLP, is carrying out the development. In particular they argued that MMO failed to consider whether phase 2 of the Brighton Marina development would amount to an actionable interference with public rights of navigation.

They also claimed that in instances where works unlawfully interfere with public rights of navigation MMO is not empowered to issue a marine licence unless a harbour revision was also made, extinguishing public navigation rights or permitting interference with the same.

The marine licence and related documents are available to view on the public register (case reference MLA/2015/00349/2).

The judgement

In his judgement Mr Justice Holgate stated that ‘the Claimant’s argument involves a fundamental misunderstanding of MCAA 2009, and of section 69(1) in particular…’ finding that MMO had gone to ‘substantial lengths to collect evidence on the relevant navigation issues’ and ‘had consulted and re-consulted on the relatively narrow points raised by the claimant’.

The judgement made clear that the MMO’s decision that the proposed activities would not interfere with navigation or safety of navigation in the entrance to the marina so as to justify refusing the application was a correct application of the relevant legislation. It also set out that ‘there was no statutory requirement or need to consider whether the effect on public rights of navigation would also be actionable’.

The judge also denied the claimant the right to appeal the judgement.