PRESS STATEMENT (EMBARGOED 26.1.09 - 10.00 AM)
Court of Appeal orders injunction against noisy racing circuit
Today (26th January 2009), the Court of Appeal ordered that Croft Motor Racing Circuit, near Darlington, must limit the number of days per year it can carry on very noisy racing activities. The Appeal Court upheld a High Court finding in April 2008 that the number of days when excessive noise emanated from the circuit was unreasonable taking into account the fact that it was situated in an essentially rural area. The Court of Appeal has also granted an appeal by local residents that the High Court, having reached a finding of nuisance, should have granted an injunction instead of allowing the nuisance to continue and attempting to compensate residents for this.
The injunction order allows Croft Circuit to carry out all its major public events and also allows it to carry on other events that cause little or no noise nuisance to the locality. The terms of the injunction are that there can be up to 40 noisy activity days per year and no more. This means that the public spectator events (averaging around 35-40 days) can continue.
The claimants' solicitor Paul Stookes, a partner at the specialist firm, Richard Buxton Environmental & Public Law, commented:
"It must be made absolutely clear that my clients have tried their best to resolve the continuing noise problems at the circuit without going to court and have, at no time, ever sought to close the circuit down. They have tried to get the circuit to act reasonably but it has taken two court hearings to achieve a result that is, in fact, reasonable for all parties.
Under the terms of the order, the major public events that may attract business to the locality can continue and the circuit is allowed up to 40 very noisy days per year. However, the circuit does not have carte blanche to carry on noisy activities at any time it chooses; that is unreasonable and is not the way a good neighbour carries on.
My clients now hope that the conclusion of the proceedings will bring a stop to the unjustified and inaccurate speculation as to the future of the circuit. It can carry on its public sporting events and its non-noisy activities. The local community can return to some normality after over 10 years of unreasonable noise for much of the year."
The claimants took the action after the circuit started intense racing activities in 1999. This involved an average of around 200 days of racing and other track events per year. The Court of Appeal agreed with the High Court that the grant of planning permission cannot authorise an unlawful act such as nuisance. In the present case, the permission had been granted when a Planning Inspector had been left with no option other than to accept the conditions the operators had proposed. These were, in terms of limiting noise wholly ineffective, although the Inspector regarded them as better than nothing at all. The claimants had moved to the area when the locality was a rural area with permission for agricultural use and had seen it develop into an intensively used racing circuit.
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