|1.||This inquiry arises out of the refusal by South Cambridge district Council ("SCDC") to grant planning permission to Cambridge University ("CU") for "a huge new facility" (1) for neurology research on primates.|
|2.||Crucially, the proposed development is sited within the Green Belt ("GB").|
|3.||As a result of this siting, it falls to CU, quite apart from overcoming SCDC's concerns about public disorder (which case the coalition adopts and supports), to complete two essential tasks if permission is to be granted.|
|4.||First it must demonstrate very special circumstances ("VSC") such as to outweigh the assumed harm that this development causes to Cambridge's GB. Secondly, it must show that the selection of this GB site came only after a genuine and thorough attempt to find an alternative, preferably non-GB, site for the development.|
|5.||Both of these issues are included in the list of material considerations set out by the Inspector at the Pre-Inquiry Meeting (see paragraph 12 of minutes of this meeting).|
CU as party to these proceedings
|6.||The importance of CU in the local area is undisputed. Much of the city is in the University's ownership. The histories of the local area, the city and the university are closely intertwined. However - once permission is refused and a public inquiry is called, CU, by virtue if the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the Inquiry Procedure Rules (2), adopts the position and role of any other party to such proceedings. This means that it is not enough for CU to rely on University- or Government-endorsed assertions. It must demonstrate its case, be it in relation to national importance and therefore the scientific worth of what is proposed, or to the selection of a site for the centre.|
|7.||Despite 2 weeks of Inquiry both of these demonstrations remain incomplete. In matters scientific, CU has maintained throughout that it is not required to demonstrate, through evidence which can be tested, that the proposal is indeed of national importance. In relation to planning, the correspondence between CU and SCDC as well as the evidence heard orally at this inquiry, confirms that the university failed to consider non-CU owned sites and, bizarrely, awaited suggestions of alternatives from SCDC rather than finding them itself. One is forced to conclude as did Professor Greenwood who gave evidence to this inquiry, that when it came to site selection "CU has ruled out other sites on the basis of their own priorities".|
|8.||The burden of proof of these issues, science and planning, falls squarely on CU. The standard of proof, given the controversial nature of the research proposed and the GB siting, is high. Both Sir Keith and Mr Sillery accepted that a higher than normal standard of proof applied to demonstration of need (due to the controversial nature of the research) and lack of alternative sites (due to harm to the GB), respectively.|
|9.||It is submitted that CU's documentary and oral evidence fail to discharge the burden of proof in relation to either of these matter, and certainly not to the standard required and that in these circumstances permission for the proposal should be refused.|
Very special circumstances
|10.||CU asserts that the proposed development is of such national importance as to constitute VSC so as to rebut the presumption against development in the GB and justify the proposal. To support this assertion CU places very considerable emphasis on various pronouncements of support for the proposed centre, and in particular a letter from Lord Sainsbury, Secretary of State for Science and Innovation (3). Whilst it is accepted that such pronouncements are capable of being material considerations for the Secretary of State through his Inspector, they are no more than that and cannot, it is submitted, be considered to be government policy, such as to remove the need to demonstrate national importance.|
|11.||Neither Lord Sainsbury's letter, nor other expressions of support, have been the subject of any statutory consultation process. None has been made available for comment by members of the coalition or any other interested party. In the case of Lord Sainsbury or the Prime Minister, the expressions of support come from nonscientists who have not examined the relevant issues in full, and no such expression purports to remove the need for CU to make its case. (cf the processes which apply to a PPG coming into force).|
Reliance also seems to be placed by CU upon the case of Bushell v Environment Secretary  AC 75. This House of Lords case held that:
"what was fair, including whether cross-examination of a witness should be allowed, would depend on the subject matter of the particular inquiry and was to be judged in the light of the practical realities as to the way in which administrative decisions involving judgments based on technical considerations were reached."
"that the assessment of need by a particular method of a particular stretch of the national motorway network was a matter of government policy in the sense that it was a topic unsuitable for investigation by individual inspectors at individual local inquiries."
Headnote, p 76.
The circumstances of this inquiry and in particular the requirement to demonstrate national need as identified by the inspector at the Pre-inquiry Meeting, are wholly different to those of Bushell.
National importance - what would need to be demonstrated
In the normal course of events a developer seeking to rely upon national importance as the necessary VSC to outweigh harm to the green belt would demonstrate through evidence that the proposal was, firstly, important at all and then that it was important in the interests of the United Kingdom.
|14.||CU has done neither.|
CU's "scientific" evidence
|15.||Whilst no one could doubt the eminence of the academic witness produced by the university, Sir Keith Peters is not a neurologist, has almost no experience of animal experimentation, and was unable to answer specific questions put to him which go to the heart of the scientific issues which would determine whether the proposed research is of importance at all.|
|16.||Sir Keith insisted that he spoke on behalf of his colleagues and of the scientific community, that the work proposed had been peer-reviewed, and that CU is a centre of acknowledged scientific excellence. None of this is disputed.|
|17.||However in order to demonstrate importance it is submitted that CU, through a relevant expert, would need to go beyond its own conviction of the centre's importance and show that this sort of work has yielded concrete and specific advances in the past and is likely to do so in the future (cf Flemming and Penicillin). This was one of the questions posed to Sir Keith Peters and Sir Alec Broers when they addressed the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology on 1 February 1999 (4). It was one of the questions I put to Sir Keith in XX.|
|18.||One of Sir Keith's frequent responses to such questions was that the proposed research had been peer reviewed. It is submitted that peer review, albeit a method of evaluating proposed research, is not the only method and risks a lack of objectivity since it involves the evaluation of proposals by like-minded scientific colleagues likely to have a stake in the perpetuation of the types of research that they evaluate (5).|
|19.||When concrete examples of advances in primate brain research were sought from Sir Keith, he referred the question to others within the "academic team" (we were never informed who exactly) who supplied written answers. Dr Greek's oral evidence showed clearly that these answers did not support the case that primate brain research had been essential in the past (see below). On the contrary most examples cited originated in non-primate work. Certainly we are offered no examples of medical advances which could only have been made through primate work, which must, it is submitted, be the test in work of such controversial nature as that proposed.|
|20.||Sir Keith accepted that the highly controversial nature of the proposed research meant that if it was to go ahead it was to be justified in the clearest terms (Sir Keith XX). However, the coalition, the public, and it is submitted, the Inspector have been left guessing as to the true authors of scientific evidence submitted by the university, the justifications offered in securing government grants for the proposal and the issues considered in the course of peer-review. Despite numerous requests none of this material has been made available to the inquiry.|
Doubtless in CU's closing we will hear of why its case has been presented as it has. To date the sole explanation for this refusal to supply any real justification for the proposed research came towards the end of the inquiry, in response to numerous questions put to the university about the scientific validity of the research and in relation to the details of the proposed centre. CU finally submitted a brief document to explain this refusal (app 18 of CU's supplementary bundle). The document states that:
"the decision by the university not to call a neuroscientist directly involved in research on animals was in the first place because it did not consider it justifiable or necessary to expose such person to the risk of identification and possible intimidation...".
|22.||Apart from the fact that such security concerns fly in the face of Dr Matfield's evidence on the likelihood of this type of research attracting militant animal rights activists, it fails to explain why a neuroscientist without an animal experimentation license was not produced to deal with the essential questions of the validity of the proposed research. Someone, say, who might have been able to declare that "I do not experiment on animals but the neuroscience work I do would not have been possible had in not been for such and such primate experimentation research carried out in the 60's". Instead, silence.|
|23.||Linked to this refusal to supply relevant experts to the inquiry was an extraordinary approach to the issue of authorship adopted by the university. Great play was made by Cambridge of Dr Greek's standing. No matter which view is taken of this matter, and it is submitted that Dr Greek possesses all the scientific standing as well as practical experience to be able to speak intelligently to the issues and more, it cannot be disputed that the evidence he supplied both oral and written was his own.|
|24.||This cannot be said of the material produced by Sir Keith. His proof consists of 11 pages of text which he stated in XX he had authored, a speech by Lord Hunt (BA in Political Sciences) which he adopts, an article entitled Rationale for Nonhuman Primate Research in Neuroscience which appeared in the October 2002 edition of the RDS Newsletter under Dr Matfield's name (see tab 20 of CU's supplemental bundle) albeit that it was (curiously) not in fact written by Dr Matfield (accepted in Matfield XX), a letter from Lord Sainsbury who is not a scientist and another from Professor King who is, albeit not a medical one.|
|25.||Specific questions put to Sir Keith on the utility of the proposed research were generally referred to "the academic team". Dr Matfield whose evidence was supposed to be limited to public order issues was nonetheless reinvented as a scientific witness (notwithstanding that he is a biochemist who has not done bench research since 1985 (see Matfield XX) rather late in the day but declined to speak to any of the scientific assertions contained within the article which bears his name. The effect of this merry-go-round of pen names and false authorship of evidence was that there was noone at all from CU available to be cross-examined on the central scientific issues at the inquiry.|
|26.||When one considers that the names of authors of academic publications which CU suggests would flow from the proposed centre would necessarily be in the public domain and in many cases already are, together with the fact that a neurologist with no involvement with animal experimentation could have appeared to give evidence without fear of harassment one is left with the impression that the CU's refusal to make its scientific case derives not from security concerns but rather from a reluctance to engage in the debate that this inquiry through early acceptance of the scientific issue as material, demanded.|
|27.||As to this debate, Dr Matfield denies that any such existed within the scientific community. This statement, made in the course of his XX is extraordinary when one considers the very many representations on scientific matters, including by respected scientists (see e.g. the evidence of Dr Hansen, Dr Reiss, as well as various medical organizations (e.g. the 5000 Dr members of PCRM) which made representations to this Inquiry. More so when one considers the plethora of articles in newspapers and articles (including scientific ones such as Science and the New Scientist (6)) penned about this inquiry.|
|28.||By contrast with the approach adopted by the university to the scientific issues that this inquiry, the coalition, through the evidence of Dr Greek presented, I submit, a clear case that animal experimentation in general and the primate brain research proposed in particular, would not reap the benefits so confidently promised by the university (7).|
Dr Greek's evidence
|29.||Whilst the burden of proof in this case is such that it falls to
CU to prove the importance of the proposed work, and not for the coalition
to disprove it, Dr Greek nonetheless went through this exercise. His
evidence, both written and oral, can be summarised thus:
|30.||It is hoped that the above constitutes a useful summary of some of the salient points of the oral and written scientific evidence adduced on the part of the coalition. Whether or not you agree with it, sir, is plainly a matter for you. However, it is hoped that the argument is clear and accessible. It is certainly not accepted that "science is not for barristers and not for the inspector" (Mr Purchas in XX of Dr Greek). On the contrary, an explanation of the scientific basis is central to the democratic rationale of the inquiry process. And inspectors and barristers, are (or should be) no strangers to explaining and understanding science. Indeed it is their job. (Consider e.g. complex medical causation evidence in personal injury law or the scientific evidence which was debated at e.g. Sizewell, T5 or almost any small inquiry in which noise is an issue.)|
|31.||As I have indicated, sir, you will have to form a view of the scientific arguments based on the facts put before you. It is my submission that the lack of factual detail and relevant expert (e.g. Colin Blakemore) make this exercise impossible to perform in relation to CU's scientific argument. This sentiment has been expressed by others too (8).|
|32.||In addition to CU's requirement to demonstrate the importance of the proposed work, it must, if it is to win this appeal show that it is of national importance or that it is of particular value to the United Kingdom. One way of considering this question is to consider the likely effect on the UK of the development not going ahead.|
|33.||In relation to this there is once again a dearth of evidence from CU. CU's acknowledged excellence in science has, in the past, been achieved without such a centre. In addition it is accepted that the research is high cost and it necessarily follows that funding to this sort of medical research will mean less availability of funds to other forms of medical research, such as clinical research which has formed the focus of much of Sir Keith's own work.|
|34.||The reality is that UK funding is better allocated to more tried and tested areas of research rather than the highly speculative blue skies research proposed here. Sir Keith's endorsement of Lord Hunt's sweeping statement that research using animals contributed to almost every single one of the medical advances of the last century is simply untenable. One only has to look at the breakthroughs boasted by the MRC in their letter of support for the proposal of 31 October 2002 to see that in fact very few, if any, are.|
|35.||Even if it is accepted that the work to be undertaken is of importance, it cannot be assumed that it is of national importance. Again, evidence of such must be put forward by CU so that the national importance is demonstrated. Again this has not been done.|
|36.||In sum, it is submitted that there is insufficient evidence before this inquiry to demonstrate the importance, let alone the national importance, of the proposal.|
|37.||Whatever reliance CU places on Government support for the proposal, any such support does not extend to the siting of the centre. This is acknowleged in the Lord Sainsbury letter. Again CU is to be treated as any other developer which seeks to develop in the GB. This means thoroughly searching for non-GB alternatives first and not restricting such a search to CU-owned sites as a matter of convenience.|
|38.||In fact the evidence points to a lack of such efforts. Mr Adamson, it is submitted, came to a fait accompli and slavishly follows the estates plan which (he freely accepted) is a creature of the university and can be changed.|
|39.||Mr Keen remarked in chief that for a University which once counted Sir Isaac Newton amongst its members, it has shown remarkably little scientific method in its approach to alternative sites. He added that a particularly rigorous approach is required when development is in the Green Belt (see in particular Keen Proof para 5.3) to the effect that a sequential test was called for, starting with non-GB alternatives and exhausting all other practicable options for alternatives (whether CU owned or not) before resorting to a GB site.|
|40.||Instead, the evidence shows that there was no assessment of non CU-owned sites before 307 was selected. CU's contention that non-university owners were unwilling to sell for the proposed use, like the national importance, must be demonstrated, rather than merely asserted. One would expect to find letters to owners and some attempt to persuade owners, as CU has sought to persuade this Inquiry, that their security concerns are exaggerated or unfounded. One would expect to see attempts by CU to purchase the freehold of more suitable land, but there is no evidence of this either. Professor Greenwood is right to be surprised that CU have made no attempt to contact the police with a view to establishing which other sites would generate fewer public disorder issues than 307 (Chief of Greenwood).|
|41.||Mr Sillery's involvement with this appeal came fairly late on and he, it is submitted, similarly found himself in the position of justifying what had already been decided. As with National Importance, a scientific approach is called for. CU need to be able to demonstrate that it has gone to the trouble of exploring alternative not within its ownership and performed more than a hypothetical exercise in relation to the others (see para 4.4 of Bidwells report at App 1 of the evidence of Mr Sillery (9)).|
|42.||The correspondence between CU and SCDC discloses a bizarre expectation on the part of CU that SCDC will do the job of supplying alternatives. This is not the practice of a normal party to such proceedings.|
Is there harm to the openness of the Green Belt?
|43.||Development in the green belt is necessarily harmful. This is an assumption made by planning law and accepted by CU. In the circumstances of this case the harm caused is real.|
Para 3.5 of the statement of common ground says:
"the proposal will not harm the openness of the green belt".
However the SCDC statement of case makes clear that its position is that:
"the development of 8015sq m of new B1(b) floorspace in addition to the 1956sq m of floorspace which will be retained will be in conflict with policies in the Dev Plan which:
Is Mr Sillery right when he says the site is not prominent?
|46.||Mr Sillery says the site is not prominent (XX). Mr Keen disagreed
in chief. Ultimately it is a matter of planning judgment for the Inspector
but Sillery (Proof 2.3) notes that the site is on the side of a ridge
sloping down to the South West and Mr Keen says the site is visible
from the M11 and parts of the A1307. Furthermore the 7.9.00 refusal
of planning permission states
"the site is prominently sited within the Cambridge Green Belt"
and Mr Keen's evidence as to the prominence of the site was not challenged in XX.
What would the visual impact be?
|47.||Again, this is plainly a matter of planning judgment for the Inspector to reach in the course of viewing the site. Mr Keen's evidence in chief was that the visual impact would be very considerable, due to the greater bulk of the building, the chimneys, the loss of trees, introduction of man-made embankments and the introduction of a substantial wall (590' by 13'). In addition to these intrusions into the Green Belt, there are likely to be future developments at the site, should the proposal go ahead, by way of security measures. A view of HLS and the additions there (detailed in a letter requested by the Ins from Mr Keen of 18 Dec 2002) gives a hint of things to come so that comparisons made at this Inquiry between the likely appearance of 307 Huntingdon Road and Colditz (see Q&A from Members of the Public) are likely to be not far off.|
The west Cambridge site
|48.||This site does not appear to have been seriously considered despite SCDC having noted it as a possibility (see 4.17 of proof of Jones). It does however meet the site selection criteria set out in the proof of Mr Adamson (paras 2.1-2.3 of Adamson proof) i.e. there is space (it has outline planning permission for 30 x the required space), it is a self-contained site, it is near to Downing college and Addenbrokes as well as other related university departments within the site. As Mssrs Sillery and Adamson accepted in XX the CU master plan could be altered to accommodate such a development and the unadopted road adjacent to the site could be adopted.|
A balancing act
|49.||Even if National Importance can be shown, the Inspector and through him the Secretary of State must perform a balancing act, weighing any evidence of national importance against that of harm caused (see paragraph 3.2 pf PPG 2). It will be for the Inspector to consider all the harm likely to be caused to the green belt and then to see whether there are, as CU claims, issues of national importance sufficiently clearly demonstrated as to outweigh such harm.|
|50.||Let us consider first the harm. There is automatic harm since this is development in the green belt. There would be, if Mr Keen's evidence is to be accepted, actual loss of openness at the site, significant encroachment into the countryside and clear conflicts with various national and local policies (see paragraphs 5-8 of the Opening Statement on behalf of the Coalition). In addition, if SCDC's evidence on public order is to be accepted (and the coalition submits that it should) there would be road blockages and harm to public safety through demonstrations at the site. In addition there would plainly be some, and Mr Keen suggests some substantial impact on the visual amenity of the area.|
|51.||To be balanced against these examples of harm (they are not exhaustive) are any potential benefits which may come from the centre. Plainly this would be in the form of the national interest if the centre can be demonstrated to be likely to improve human health and be beneficial overall to the UK. The coalition's strong submission is CU have failed to demonstrate this. In the event that the Inspector/Secretary of State is persuaded of the national importance of the proposed development, it is nonetheless submitted that its siting at 307 result in an unjustifiable amount of harm to the GB and to the local area and that the appeal should fail in any event.|
|52.||CU has failed to demonstrate with clarity or at all:
(i) That the proposed centre would/would be likely to yield benefits to human health and to the UK and that it is therefore in the national interest;
(ii) That the proposed centre should be sited at 307 Huntington Road, within the Green Belt and adjacent to a busy main road intersection;
(iii) That there would not be disruption through demonstrations and protest at the site;
(iv) Details of the proposed activities on the site or the underlying scientific merits of them such that a fully informed view can be reached about the proposed research.
|The coalition has demonstrated through its documentary and oral
(i) the proposed research is not in the national interest; alternatively
|53.||CU's failure to adduce relevant evidence in terms of details of the centre, a clear justification for the proposed research or a relevant expert witness, available for questioning in open inquiry together with its 'back-to-front' approach to site selection mean that it has failed to complete the 2 principle tasks, demonstrating national need and demonstrating an exhaustive and proper search for non-GB sites, identified at the beginning of this closing. In order for CU to win this appeal, both of these two elements would have to be accepted on trust, rather than on the basis of tested evidence. Such a finding would not, in my submission be the result of a public inquiry, properly so called, no matter how many members of public have attended and been accommodated over the 2 weeks this inquiry has sat, but rather of a decision reached one knows not how, behind closed doors.|
|54.||Whatever the truth about Dr Matfield's bold assertion that there exists no debate about the merits of animal experimentation amongst respected scientists, this inquiry, like all public inquiries called for a debate or a public scrutiny into several key issues. Amongst these issues, are those of the need for the research establishment (and therefore the scientific utility of primate brain experimentation to human health) and alternative sites (bullet points 3 and 6 of the minutes of the pre-inquiry meeting).|
|55.||CU has failed to make its case properly or at all in relation to either of these. It has made as little effort into finding alternatives to this research as it has into finding alternative sites for it. Accordingly, as would befall any other such party to these proceedings, its appeal should be refused.|
Prepared by Richard Wald, 2 Mitre Court Buildings, London EC4Y 7BX, 08 January 2003