Navitus Bay Wind Park
The query in the correspondence relates to Local Impact Reports (LIR) and in particular:
~ the role, if any, of a LIR in representing the views of the wider community;
~ in setting out whether impacts are likely to be positive, neutral and negative, how does that not cover expressing an opinion on merits; and
~ how a Local Authority can engage with the Examination process.
A Local Authority can engage with the Examination process in a number of ways. Firstly, they are invited to submit Adequacy of Consultation Representations once a formal application has been received by the Planning Inspectorate. These representations however are focused on whether the applicant has carried out the consultation in accordance with the Statement of Community Consultation, upon which the Local Authority could have provided comments.
Secondly, whilst a Local Authority may well be a statutory party we strongly encourage the organisation to make a relevant representation. This is about 500 words that summarises which aspects of the scheme you agree or disagree with. Submitting this information at this early stage greatly assists the Examining Authority to understand the principal issues and start to decide how best to examine the application. Where individual elected members (and indeed members of the public) do not necessarily agree with the approach in the Council's response, we encourage them to submit relevant representations on their own behalf.
As you may be aware, the Planning Act 2008 places great significance on LIRs in the process. In coming to a decision, the Secretary of State must have regard to any LIR submitted by the deadline set in the Examining Authority's timetable. Local Authorities are invited to submit these documents early in the Examination process, as they are of great assistance to the Examining Authority. A Local Authority need not produce an LIR.
Further into examination, the Examining Authority may direct written questions to an individual Local Authority asking for a written response. Local Authorities may also provide comments on the relevant representations of other participants. Finally, Local Authorities may wish to submit Written Representations providing more detailed evidence or data to supplement their own Relevant Representation. In terms of oral evidence, the Local Authority may seek to represent their cases at any Open Floor or Issue-Specific Hearings. So conclude on the first point, whilst the LIR is given significance through the Planning Act process, there are multiple ways in which a Local Authority can make representations on an application.
Turning to the second point about LIRs and expressing opinions on the merits of an application. Whilst an LIR may chose to represent a broad range of impacts they should be categorised as positive, neutral or negative. If those impacts are considered to be neutral they may not appear in any other Local Authority representation. However, where an element of balance, weighting or interpretation may be needed to overlay this factual analysis of impacts this is where a Local Authority may express its views about the merits of the application. For example, a Local Authority may conclude that there will be a likely negative impact in terms of a particular traffic impact, but that the positive impact in terms of job creation outweighs that effect and so, with the possibility for appropriate traffic mitigation measures, the Local Authority may support the scheme. Furthermore, a Local Authority may have a particular concern or objective that could be expressed through a Written Representation, such as a design related matter or concerns about the ability to discharge a particular/number of requirements.
Turning to the first point, a LIR should be a document that covers all local impacts from the perspective of the Local Authority and it may refer to the broader views of the community in terms of identifying impacts. It often refers extensively to local strategies, plans and policies and how the proposal fits in (or otherwise). Perhaps the best way to see how an LIR might do this or the possible relationship between an LIR and subsequent representations would be to view similar documents for schemes further on through the examination process on our website.