The Earl of Munster
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the cumulative effect of multiple golf course developments on water supply should be a cause for the refusal of planning consent; and whether they will use powers under Section 100 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to revoke planning permission for developments prejudicial to the future supply of drinking water.
§ The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Baroness Blatch)
A golf course may rely for water either on direct abstraction or on public supplies. The National Rivers Authority controls direct abstractions through a licensing system. Water undertakers have a duty under Section 46 of the Water Act 1989 to supply water for non-domestic purposes, subject to certain conditions being satisfied. But that duty does not apply if to provide the supply would put at risk the undertaker's ability to meet all its existing obligations to supply water for domestic or other purposes, together with its probable future obligations, or would involve the undertaker in unreasonable expenditure for that purpose.
The plannning system should not duplicate the controls and safeguards available in other legislation; we would therefore not expect the availability of water normally to be material to the decision on a planning application.
The Government's policy is to use their power to revoke planning permissions only rarely. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment takes the view that the power should be used only if the original decision is judged to be 44WA grossly wrong so that damage is likely to be done to the wider public interest. Any decision to revoke a planning permission is taken on its merits in accordance with this policy.