Publication - FOI/EIR release

Changes to Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) casework portal: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
6 Apr 2021
Changes to Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) casework portal: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100132932
Date received: 6 Jan 2021
Date responded: 28 Jan 2021
Information requested

1. "DPEA... have now integrated their case management system with Planning and Architecture Division (PAD)".

Please provide (a) the date of this change and (b) information about any publicity given to the change at any stage.

2. "The DPEA is responsible for the administration of over 20 different types of casework."

Please (a) list all the different types of casework DPEA is responsible for, by reference to the 80 case types in the dropdown list in the 'Advanced Search' facility, and (b) confirm that, until the change, no other types of casework were listed in the portal.

3. "PAD Decisions Branch processes a wide range of statutory planning and historic environment casework that Scottish Ministers have an interest in. The range of case types includes: notified applications, compulsory purchase orders and EIA screening directions."

Please (a) list all the different types of casework PAD is responsible for, by reference to the 80 case types in the dropdown list in the 'Advanced Search' facility, and (b) confirm that, until the change, none of these types of casework was included in the portal. (c) As well as the 3 types of case mentioned (notified applications, compulsory purchase orders and EIA screening directions), PAD also deals with notification directions. Of these 4 types of casework, 3 are also handled by DPEA (notified applications, compulsory purchase orders and notification directions). Please (a) identify the statutory provision giving rise to each of these 3 types of casework and (b) clarify the distinction between the types of case handled by PAD and those handled by DPEA in each of these 3 categories.

4. Please provide a copy of any manual or guidance on the use of the portal, either internal (for staff) or external (for members of the public).

Response

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

The answer to your questions are detailed below in the order in which they were submitted.

1 a) I confirm that the date of the change detailed above was 4 November 2020, with a week's gradual rollout finishing on the 12 November 2020.

1 b) Public announcements were made in respect of the project via Twitter as detailed more fully below :

Colleagues in Planning and Architecture Division (PAD) announced the completion of the project via Twitter on 12 November 2020 . I attach a link to that tweet for convenience. 
https://twitter.com/ScotGovPlanning/status/1326863174436589570

DPEA announced the completion of the project via Twitter on 13 November 2020. I attach a link to that tweet for convenience.
Scot Gov DPEA on Twitter: "Planning Decision team cases will now be available at https://t.co/tn7kAjO30D" / Twitter

2 a) I attach, within the accompanying Annex, a table containing a list of case types and the Division responsible for those case types. The table incorporates the information you requested relevant to both Questions 2 a and 3 a.

2 b) I confirm that no other case work was listed in the portal that did not fall under the DPEA’s remit before the change. Where the case type is marked DPEA and PAD, the casework existed on the portal but only contained relevant DPEA information fields, the change has introduced PAD information fields to allow them to record information on the case when it is being processed by PAD.

3 a) As noted above the table in the Annex incorporates the information requested relevant to both Questions 2 a and 3 a.

3 b) I confirm that no PAD only case work existed on the portal before the change. Where the case type is marked DPEA and PAD, the casework existed on the portal but only contained relevant DPEA information fields, the change has introduced PAD information fields to allow them to record information on the case when it is being processed by PAD.

3 c) Please see below a detailed description in respect of both parts a, and b, of your questions regarding notified applications, compulsory purchase orders and EIA Screening Directions.

Notified Applications (a) Should a statutory consultee object to an application, and the Council are minded to grant planning consent, that application must be notified to Scottish Ministers under standard procedures. This notification requirement allows Ministers to consider whether the proposal raises issues of national importance to warrant the application being called in for their determination or if the application should remain with the local authority for a decision to be taken at local level. (b) If a notified application had been taken forward by the authority (ie not called in) and the appellant has issues with the planning authorities decision on the case, it might become an appeal, in such circumstance DPEA take forward the case and allocate a designated reporter for scrutiny. In exceptional circumstances Ministers can re call an appeal for their own determination.

Compulsory Purchase Order(a) Should an Acquiring authority action a CPO it is the role of Scottish Ministers to approve this Order and allow it to be made. If public sector organisation need assistance in acquiring land or similar they must set out all factors associated with the request, including burdens, owners, financial restraints, objections etc.. this can be a lengthy process. The Scottish Government considers and uses the necessary powers to purchase land to enable projects that are in the public’s interest to proceed. (b) Where unresolved objections to an order remain, Scottish Ministers will appoint a planning and environmental appeals reporter to hold a hearing or public local inquiry (PLI). The Reporter will consider all relevant facts of the case, determine whether a PLI or hearing is required, the form of submissions and provide Scottish Ministers with a report and recommendations on whether the Order should be confirmed or not.

EIA Screening Direction (a) Generally planning authorities consider whether a proposed development requires EIA, however Scottish Ministers are empowered to make directions in relation to EIA (EIR 2017 Regulations) if required. (b) DPEA are not involved.

4 Please find attached a link to our Appeals website guidance for external users and members of the public. Planning and Environmental Appeals website: user guidance - gov.scot (www.gov.scot) I have also attached pdf copies of the same, should they be of assistance.

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