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Appeals, public inquiries and expert evidence

Appeals, public inquiries and expert evidence
February 25, 2014 Mike Watson

It is the case that planning applications for renewable energy developments, such as a single turbine or wind farms, are sometimes refused. However this is not always the end of the road, because developers can decide to formally appeal. This can be in the form of a hearing, written representation or public inquiry.

Deciding to appeal?

As part of my work here at Pager Power, I often give advice and evidence to support the appeal process, and I think deciding whether to go down this route is quite difficult. There is a lot to take into account, made even more challenging by the added time pressures of the submission deadline.

Although I enjoy discussing the possibility of appeals with clients – helping weigh up the many pros and cons – the process can be expensive and confrontational. It is my view that where possible appeals should be avoided and matters resolved outside the planning system. This can result in lower costs and a better long term relationship with aviation and radar stakeholders.

However, before you can make a decision on whether to embark on an appeal, you need to estimate the chances of success; the likely costs and the demands on the developer’s own time.

It is the case that more appeals are now being determined by written representations and fewer by public inquiry.

Written representations tend to cost less than a public inquiry. Where the main reason for the appeal is aviation and/or radar then the likelihood of success is somewhat dependent on the merits of the case. It is also dependent on how the case is presented.

Quality Evidence

If after careful consideration you decide to appeal, evidence and preparation is crucial. Any weakness or uncertainty is a big disadvantage to the appellant, so acknowledging your limitations puts you in a strong position.

Regardless of the format, evidence has to be clear, accurate and robust. Don’t underestimate the significance of a logical flow, clear summary and good diagrams for strengthening evidence. What’s also important is ensuring that the individuals providing evidence, have the expertise to do so.

Representation

Traditionally, working at Pager Power I have given evidence on behalf of renewable energy developers e.g. of wind turbine projects. However the company is prepared to undertake work for renewable energy developers, aviation stakeholders, radar and radio operators and local authorities.

If you have a project which you would like to discuss, you can contact me or the rest of the dedicated Pager Power team. Telephone +44 1787 319001 or email info@pagerpower.com.

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