The relevant appeal procedures are summarised below, however for more comprehensive information please see the code of practice on procedures for handling environmental appeals.
Exchange of written evidence
The process for an environmental appeal usually involves three stages. First, the person making the appeal must submit a statement of grounds of appeal and all documents in support of the appeal to DPEA. The authority then provides its response to the grounds of appeal and submits all documents upon which it intends to rely. Finally, the appellant may comment on the authority's response.
In order to ensure that appeals are dealt with efficiently and within a reasonable period of time, the Scottish Ministers expect parties to submit full details of their cases, including any supporting documents, within the timescales set for exchange of information. All matters will normally be dealt with under that exchange, with no need for further submissions.
After that exchange of written representations, the appeal will be allocated to a reporter who will decide whether any further procedure is required and can request additional written representations if needed.
At any time during the appeal process, the reporter may choose to carry out an inspection of the site or any other area relevant to the appeal, and may do so without the accompaniment of any parties to the appeal. Alternatively the appellant, the authority and any other person involved in the case may be invited to attend.
At the site inspection, the reporter will attend solely to become familiar with the location and how it relates to the issues at appeal. As a general rule, other people attending will not be allowed to discuss the merits of the case with the reporter, although they may point out particular physical features or be asked to respond to factual questions about the site.
In some cases, the reporter will choose to arrange and hold a hearing session or a more formal inquiry session to examine particular issues, and so help the reporter to reach a conclusion on the appeal. In certain types of appeal, the person making the appeal or the authority can ask to be heard by the reporter, in which case the reporter will arrange for a hearing session or an inquiry session to be held.
Decision on the appeal
After considering all relevant issues, the reporter will produce a decision on the appeal. The decision notice is sent to the person making the appeal, the authority and anyone else who has been notified of the appeal or involved in it.
In some cases, rather than making the decision on the appeal personally, the reporter will instead send a report with a recommendation to the Scottish Ministers who will make the final decision. All people involved will be sent a copy of the Scottish Ministers' decision, along with a copy of the report.
Awards of Expenses
Normally everyone involved in an appeal must pay their own costs. However, the person making the appeal or the authority may make a claim for expenses against the other where the other party to the appeal has behaved unreasonably, and this unreasonable behaviour has resulted in the claimant incurring unnecessary expenditure. Expenses are not awarded simply because an appeal has been 'won' or 'lost'. A claim needs to be made before the exchange of written representations is complete or, in cases where there is a hearing or inquiry session, before the end of that session.
Withdrawing an Appeal
If you have made an appeal, you can withdraw it at any time before the decision is made. You would need to confirm your wish to withdraw in writing to DPEA. If you do withdraw your appeal, particularly at a late stage, you could be liable to meet some of the authority's expenses as a result of unnecessary costs.