Just adjusting to life back in the office following 2 weeks at a windfarm inquiry in Midlothian. After 7 days of evidence (and one day off for good behaviour) we still have to tackle planning policy, so we’ll all be back for 2 more days in March.
The process has been interesting – although the appeal is subject to the old rules (appeal lodged on 28 February 2008 – yes, that’s 2008!!) the “hybrid” arrangements adopted perhaps give a flavour of what’s to come. And it’s a general thumbs up from me.
While the topics in dispute have been wide-ranging, the inquiry format has been used sparingly (LVI, impact on peat and planning policy only) with everything else going to hearing sessions. The formal inquiry evidence has also been ordered by topic, rather than by party, so that for example all of the landscape witnesses were heard back to back rather than having all of the appellant’s witnesses followed by all of the Council’s witnesses in the usual way. Not only has this made witness scheduling much easier, but there’s an obvious advantage in letting the Reporters hear competing experts in one chapter of evidence rather than being days apart as sometimes happens.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the landscape and visual evidence has dominated the proceedings – 3 days out of 7. The hearing format would no doubt have halved that time (at least), but was never seriously discussed in this case. I’m told that Inspectors down south have now all but abandoned the inquiry format for LVI evidence, as they feel they get little benefit from it, so watch this space….
And finally, with nearly 400 documents lodged – just how many have we looked at so far? My guess is about 40. Sustainable development anyone????
On February 1, 2010