Oil and gas company, Ineos Upstream’s scheme to sink a test well, together with ancillary works and an access track, was opposed by a local anti-fracking group whose primary objections were on road safety.
Ineos Upstream submitted a new traffic plan to the Planning Inspectorate and the council but not to third parties, who received it just two weeks before the inquiry opening. The Planning Inspectorate granted consent subject to conditions and Les Barlow (a member of the anti-fracking group) sought a judicial review of the decision, arguing that the public inquiry was infected by procedural unfairness. The four-week adjournment sought by Barlow was refused.
Mrs Justice Andrews ruled that Barlow (and the anti-fracking group) had not been deprived of a reasonable opportunity to challenge Ineos Upstream’s case and to bring their points before the Planning Inspector. She went on to say that whether someone has had fair opportunity to respond to the new evidence will depend on six factors:
- The nature, volume and complexity of the evidence
- Its importance to the issues to be determined
- How much time that person had to consider, understand and prepare a response
- The resources available to that person and their access to relevant expertise
- What responses were able to be put forward
- What else they may have said or done if they had longer to prepare
Appellants would be well advised to take care when introducing new evidence to a planning appeal, ensuring that it is available in good time for public inspection, usually via the local authority’s website.
For more information please contact Sophie Harriman
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