Navitus Bay Wind Park
I am writing following the recent meeting of PCBA Steering Group after the end of the two weeks of Issue Specific Hearings. Colleagues have become increasingly concerned at the way in which the innocuous sounding Appendix 43 was being dealt with. I refer particularly to the answer given to my question at the ISH on Thursday 27 November regarding Community Consultation on such a major departure from what the general public had seen prior to the Application. You will recall that I was told that the vehicle for this activity was the PINS web site. The question, therefore, arises as to how people are supposed to be aware of this new proposal; the average member of the public is hardly scanning the web site casually. Even if they did, they are not likely to stumble on App 43, save by accident.
Your letter to IPs dated 21 November does not (eg. as a banner headline) draw the reader?s attention to the significant new material in the process; I expect most IPs saw no need to act further having already sent in their written representations. Most were not ?invitees? to the Hearings and so would not have felt the need for specific action. We are all now faced with having to await the Applicant submitting materials by 11 December and then having only until 7 January (including the period of the Christmas and New Year holidays) to comment. The only ?consultation? envisaged in this period appears to be with primary stakeholders, whereas the original proposals were the subject of two years of public engagement, exhibitions, meetings and the like.
We believe this new material should be the subject of a proper round of local publicity and consultation so that feedback can be obtained as to whether this proposal should be allowed to be considered by ExA under the original Application and, if so, its merits. We cannot simply rely on the odd report in the local paper or broadcast media. These have not conveyed to IPs nor the general public that they still have a role in contributing to the decision making process.
I should be glad to have the view of the ExA on the position. You will know that the PCBA opinion is set out in detail in our letter to you dated 10 November 2014.
The documents relating to appendix 43 were submitted to PINS as part of Deadline III and as such were published on our website and made publicly available. The timetable has been varied to ensure that interested parties have had an opportunity to comment on the documents (our letter of the 21 November). Whilst this letter did not draw the reader?s attention to the specifics or volume of the documentation it does specifically refer to appendix 43. This letter was sent to all interested parties. This is the way the ExA is seeking to obtain feedback as to whether this proposal should be considered under the original Application and, if so, its merits.
Regarding the general public having a role in contributing to the decision making process, they may write to the Planning Inspectorate, but if they have not registered as an interested party, there is no guarantee that the representation will be taken into account. Whilst the Examining Authority does have discretion to accept written representations even from people who have not submitted a valid relevant representation, this should not be relied upon because people who are not interested parties have no legal entitlement to participate.
Those who have not registered as an interested party, can also consider grouping together with an individual or organisation which has already registered and become an interested party, where they have similar views to their own, so that they can express their views on their behalf.
If members of the public choose to do this, they may also wish to ask this person or organisation to keep them informed regarding the progress of the application, as the Examining Authority only writes directly to interested parties about the progress of the application.