- 8 Feb 2019
Date received: 16 Jan 2019
Date responded: 7 Feb 2019
Information in relation to the planning appeal for a proposed Waste Processing Plant at Whistleberry Road, Hamilton.
The answer to your questions are listed in the order you asked them, within Annex A of this document.
Some of the information you have requested is available from http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/CaseDetails.aspx?id=115273
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because of exemptions under sections 33(1)(b) and 38(1)(b) of FOISA applies to that information. The reason why that exemption applies is explained in the Annex B of this response.
(i) Did the Minister who made the Direction have before him a full set of all the documents in this Appeal, including our Planning consultant’s letter of 24 October 2018.
The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning made the decision to recall this case. The decision whether to recall an appeal is concerned with identifying the most appropriate level of decision making, not the merits of the case. In this case the Minister decided that there were potential issues of national importance that warrant the decision to be taken by Scottish Ministers. The Reporter, in preparing a report and recommendation for Scottish Ministers, will take into account all documentation and relevant representations.
(ii) What additional information was provided to the Scottish Ministers between their decision dated 16th November 2018 and the Direction taken on 6 December 2018.
The decision on the 16 November 2018 related to the appointment of the reporter. The Reporter is appointed to carry out the assessment regardless of whether the appeal is recalled.
(iii) Why did the Scottish Ministers change their position on the determination of the appeal.
Scottish Ministers had committed to considering such appeals for potential recall. Having considered this appeal, they were of the view that it raises issues of national importance.
(iv) What meetings did the Scottish Ministers (or any individual Scottish Minister) have with MSP’s, MP’s, politicians and other objectors to the appeal proposal prior to the decision of 6th December 2018.
Scottish Ministers cannot discuss merits of a live case as that could prejudice the decision making process. We can confirm that the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning has not met any parties to discuss this appeal case.
(v) Were minutes of the meetings referred to in (iv) above taken? If so can we have copies of minutes and details of those people that attended the meetings and an explanation as to why our representatives were not invited to the meetings or given an opportunity to comment on what was said at the meetings?
(vi) What regard did the Scottish Ministers have to the position of SEPA, Historic Scotland, Transport Scotland, and the SNH’s consultation responses and their own policy on “this type of development”?Ministers noted that there were no objections received from the internal council consultees or from statutory consultees including Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage subject to conditions.
(vii) What advice were the Scottish Ministers given on the basis of the Direction and by who.
Advice was offered from Planning and Architecture Division as is normal practice. “This major proposal has some significant changes in terms of the design and scale of the proposal since the previous appeal. It also raises significant levels of public opposition. We consider that the proposal raises issues of potential national importance and a decision by Ministers is warranted. We recommend that the Minister recalls the appeal in light of the sensitivities of this type of development and the significant level of public interest.”
(viii) What is the basis for the Scottish Ministers considering that “there is a national interest with the sensitivity of this type of development”.
Ministers have committed to considering all waste processing appeals for recall. Energy from Waste plant applications have been recalled by Ministers on the basis of the type of development, level of opposition and the residential characteristics of the area.
(ix) What is the basis for concluding that “the significant level of public interest” justifies the Direction? Is this based on the number of objections?
Ministers have concluded on the basis of the type of development, level of opposition and residential characteristics of the area. The level of opposition is significantly higher with this case than other past cases.
(x) Why do the Scottish Ministers not have the confidence in the Reporter determining this application? Do they consider that Scottish Ministers’ Reporters are not properly reflecting the Scottish Government’s approach to policy in their decisions on this type of development?
Scottish Ministers have complete confidence in the reporter appointed to deal with this appeal. His report and recommendations will be fully considered by Scottish Ministers before reaching a final decision on this proposal. The only difference with a recalled case is that the Reporter makes a recommendation to the Minister, with the Minister taking the final decision.
(xi) Will the Scottish Ministers confirm that no Minister who has had meetings with objectors to the Appeal proposals will be party to making the determination?
The Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning will take the decision. He has had no meetings regarding this appeal.
(xii) What assurance can the Scottish Ministers give that the Direction will not add to the period for the Appeal to be determined.
Scottish Ministers aim to make all planning casework decisions timeously. This case will need require some additional examination, however, Scottish Ministers will endeavour to determine as soon as this is possible.
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION
Exemptions under Section 33(1)(b) and Section 38(1)(b) of the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (SCOTLAND) ACT 2002 applies to some the information you have requested.
In this instance, the sections relates to “personal data of a third party”, and “Commercial interests” both have been redacted from view.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House