5. Inquiries and Hearings
5.1. If any statutory objections remain unresolved, the Scottish Government will instruct the Government's Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals ( DPEA) to arrange for the case to be considered and a report with recommendations to be prepared. The consideration of the case will be undertaken by an independent Reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers, who will normally be a specialist, such as a planner, surveyor, engineer, architect or lawyer.
5.2. The Reporter will consider all relevant facts of the case, determine whether a PLI or Hearing is required, the form of submissions and representations and provide Scottish Ministers with a report and recommendations on whether the Order should be confirmed or not. It is for Scottish Ministers to ultimately decide upon the Order but the Reporter's report and recommendations will carry considerable weight.
5.3. Depending on the volume of objections, the nature of the objections and the Acquiring Authority's response to these, and the wishes of the objectors and the Acquiring Authority, it will be decided whether a Public Local Inquiry or Hearing is most appropriate (see schedule 2 for further details of how this part of the process works).
5.4. The Scottish Government will bear the administrative costs of holding the Inquiry. However, Scottish Ministers may also make an award to cover any legal expenses where a statutory objector to an Order is successful, unless there are exceptional circumstances for not doing so (See Circular 6/1990 at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/1990/03/circular-6-1990). In such circumstances meeting the award of expenses is the responsibility of the Acquiring Authority.
5.5. Ministers may also award expenses if they consider that the Acquiring Authority has acted unreasonably and the party claiming expenses has incurred unnecessary expense as a result.
5.6. Once the date of the Inquiry or Hearing is fixed DPEA will change it only for exceptional reasons. DPEA will not usually agree to cancel or postpone the Inquiry unless:
- All objections are withdrawn;
- The Acquiring Authority withdraws the Order; or
- Parties are not able to attend.
5.7. After the Inquiry or Hearing has been completed and the views of all parties heard and considered the Reporter will write a report setting out their recommendations for Scottish Ministers and will submit this to the Scottish Government Lead Officer.