On a recent visit to inspect Powys Planning files, SHCG found a letter from Sir Simon Gourlay to Gwilym Davies of Powys Planning which reveals that, over one year ago, Powys had already informed Gourlay that they were minded to approve application P/2012/0573 for access to the proposed Reeves Hill Wind Farm.
To see the full text of Gourlay’s letter. The crucial section reads as follows:
‘Just over fifteen months ago, Michael Phillips of Dulas and I sat with you, the second case officer, in your office and you indicated that you couldn’t see any reason why it should not go forward with a recommendation for approval. You admitted that it had taken a long time to get thus far and that we should aim for the April meeting. That was April 2014. At the end of January, fifth case officer Mr Packer inherited from Mathews Griffiths a 53 page report that ended with a recommendation for approval. He indicated that he wanted to edit it, something that he has already had a month to work on, and in the absence of any significant developments must surely be able very quickly to finish. I am sure he can, for if he cannot he would be demonstrating the sort of procrastination that consistently, with the exception of the brief period of Mr Griffith’s stewardship, has so frustrated the applicant over the last two and a half years.
Before Christmas and the subsequent further January postponement, a very experienced planning consultant – himself an ex-planning officer – described the saga of this application as the most shambolic he had ever witnessed. If the application does not go for decision by the Committee on the 9th April, the whole story will be referred to your internal complaints procedure and, if necessary, thence to the Planning Ombudsman’.
The letter is a prime example of Sir Simon Gourlay’s hectoring and bullying approach. It is clear from the planning files that, time and again, when SHCG has sent submissions to Powys, their response has typically been to send them straight to the developer for comment and then to accept the developer’s opinion instead of studying the submissions and forming their own independent view as to the merits of the case.
SHCG has recently sent a barrister’s opinion regarding Powys’ approach to this application.
We trust that, in future, Powys will adopt a more robustly independent stance.