- Total number of people who expressed they did not want a windfarm at this location.
- Total number of people who did want a windfarm at this location.
- Total number of council members who were against a windfarm at this location.
- Total number of council members who wanted a windfarm at this location.
I do not consider impartial voices relevant to the analysis.
Could you also provide:
- The reporters connection to Lairg.
- The reporters specialist expertise that assumes them the powers to override democratic process.
Q1. I can confirm that the Highland Council, in their response to the appeal, provided DPEA with a total of 299 letters of representation from interested parties. Those representations had been submitted to the planning authority during the application stage. Of those 299 representations 292 parties objected to the proposal.
A total of 67 representations were received directly to DPEA from interested parties. (This includes 3 consultation responses). From those 67 representations, 63 interested parties objected to the proposal. 2 consultees maintained their objection.
Q2. Of the above 299 representations 7 letters of support were provided. This includes 1 duplicate representation which appears to have been submitted to the authority twice.
Of the 67 letters submitted directly to DPEA , 1 letter, sent on behalf of 2 parties, was in support of the proposal. 1 consultee response did not object.
For convenience, you can view a copy of all the representations submitted by the planning authority to DPEA via the attached links :
http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/Document.aspx?id=899862 Representations part 1
http://www.dpea.scotland.gov.uk/Document.aspx?id=899864 Representations part 2
You can also view all the representations/consultations submitted directly to DPEA via the DPEA website. Click on the tab named 'Representations submitted to DPEA'
Q3. I confirm that 9 council committee members supported refusing the granting of planning permission for the proposal. That information can be found within the document submitted by the planning authority as part of their response to the appeal and is published to the DPEA website here - THC034 - Action_Note_NPAC_special_mtg_29_June_2022 (3)
Q4. As above, I can confirm that 2 council committee members supported granting planning permission for the proposal.
Further information requested
1. The appointed reporter has no connection to Lairg. DPEA prides itself on the professionalism, fairness and impartiality of its reporters. Each case is required to be dealt with and seen to be dealt with, in a fair and open manner. This is also taken into account in allocating reporters to cases and the DPEA maintain a policy of not appointing reporters to deal with cases in the area in which they live or have worked. Appointing reporters, who do not live locally, ensures that they have no personal involvement in any local issues or any ties with the planning authority or its policies. However, reporters will be aware of local views from the representations people have made on the case and will, in the vast majority of cases, have carried out an inspection of the appeal site
2. Reporters have a variety of professional backgrounds, albeit most are planners. I attach a link to the DPEA Annual Review Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA): annual review 2022 to 2023 - gov.scot (www.gov.scot), Annex C, which provides the qualifications of all DPEA reporters including the reporter appointed to determine the appeal you highlight.
In terms of your concerns about the 'democratic process', the principle that a decision to refuse planning consent can be appealed has long been established, as is the requirement that the appeal consider the planning merits of the case. The vast majority of appeals are considered and decided by Scottish Government reporters. The reporter is appointed by Scottish Ministers to make the decision on their behalf, in the same way councillors may delegate decisions to planning authority officials. Whilst DPEA may issue decisions that overturn that of a planning authority, they may also agree with the authority's decision. The role of the reporter is that of an impartial decision maker who must consider the information before them based on the planning merits of the case. Each appeal is considered solely on the facts as they relate to the proposals and reporters are appointed to deal with casework based on the knowledge and experience required to deal with the case. Each case is required to be dealt with and seen to be dealt with, in a fair and open manner. DPEA publish all documentation to their website. The reporter fully considered, and carefully weighed, all this information before concluding that the proposed development complied overall with the development plan. She explains the extent and scope of her reasoning in reaching this decision throughout the decision notice.
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
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