Pembrokeshire County Council could be exposed to the dual threats of judicial review and ridicule if its published planning report on the controversial Princes Gate Spring Water wind turbines is allowed to stand, it is claimed this week.
As the Western Telegraph reported last week, the application – for two 86.5 metre wind turbines on the highest piece of ground in south Pembrokeshire – has attracted strong opposition, as well as letters of support.
It is due to be considered by the council’s planning committee on January 10th, with the closing date for observations being advertised as December 20th.
But the planning report, published on the council’s website the following day, appeared to have been written at some point during the previous week, said Mary Sinclair, the chairman of the Pembrokeshire branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales.
Although it refers to the 99 objections received, it was already written before a further 48 local objections were hand-delivered to the council on the closing date.
The planning report is recommending approval of the turbines, subject to conditions which Mrs Sinclair describes as “skeletal”, with its faults including making no critical appraisal of the supporting information produced on behalf of the applicants.
She added: “More importantly, and despite the internal flaws within the report, its premature production and recommendation represents an unacceptable – and almost certainly illegal – procedure. To continue on this basis would expose the county council to the threat of judicial review, and frankly, ridicule.”
The branch – with the support of the newly-formed local organisation Save Our Skylines Pembrokeshire – has now written to senior planners and council leader, Councillor John Davies, requesting the report to be withdrawn and put before a later meeting when it has been revised.
Pembrokeshire County Council spokeswoman Anna Wilson said that planning officers can, if necessary. provide a committee report in advance of the end of the advertised consultation period.
She added: “When responses are received after a report is drafted, the planning officer will verbally update committee on those responses and, where appropriate, update and change the recommendation.
“The fact that some responses are not in the report does not mean the committee will not be made aware of them.
“This approach has to be taken because determination dates and committee cycles do not always correspond. In addition, the timescale is disrupted in this instance by the Christmas and new year period.
“We have a statutory target to determinate planning applications within either eight or 13 weeks, depending on the application, or the applicant can appeal to the Welsh Government.
“The application would then be determined by a planning inspector on behalf of the Welsh Government and not by the authority.”
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