A Planning Appeals Commission was wrong in law to grant permission for a car park near Belfast International Airport, the High Court heard yesterday.
Lawyers for the Department of the Environment said the green light was given despite a finding that there was no demonstrable need for the facility.
In an unusual move, the DoE is seeking to judicially review the commission’s decision to authorise the Easi-park site.
Enforcement proceedings had been issued by the department over the alleged unauthorised use of land for car-parking.
The court heard that more than 20 staff were at one stage employed in the business where travellers leave their vehicles and are shuttled on to the airport.
In January last year the Planning Appeals Commission upheld a challenge to the DoE’s move.
But counsel for the department claimed yesterday that there had been a failure to carry out a balancing exercise between two separate planning policy statements.
Although the car park was found to comply with PPS21 dealing with impact on the countryside, the commission held that it breached another, PPS3.
Barrister Charles Banner said this was due to a lack of any demonstrable need for the car park.
Granting planning permission in those circumstances amounted to an error of law, he contended.
In a case scheduled to last two days Belfast International Airport is appearing as a notice party in support of the department’s challenge.
The hearing continues.