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NOTES of PRE-INQUIRY MEETING

Latest Update on the Pilrow Windfarm Appeal as at 17th November 2013 

NOTES of PRE-INQUIRY MEETING + INQUIRY TIMETABLE

Held on 12 November 2013 at 10.00

Recovered Appeal by Broadview Energy Ltd

Ref: APP/V3310/A/13/2197449

against refusal by Sedgemoor District Council of planning

permission for:

‘The erection, 25 year operation and subsequent decommissioning of a wind energy development comprising: four wind turbines with a maximum overall height (to vertical blade tip) of up to 130 metres; together with new access tracks, hardstanding areas, anemometry mast, transformers/switchgear kiosks, a control building, cabling, a temporary construction compound, and other works and development ancillary to the main development’ on Land east of the M5 and south of A38 Bristol Road Rooksbridge, Axbridge, Somerset

In attendance:

Paul Jackson Inspector

For Broadview Energy:

Jeremy Pike Counsel

Tom Cosgrove Broadview

For Sedgemoor District Council:

Gavin Collett Counsel

Chris Gomm Case Officer

Janette Burton Landscape Officer

Dorothy O’Farrell Legal Dept

Steve Fancourt Arup

Colin Arnold

For No Pilrow Limited (NPL)(‘Rule 6’ party):

Martin Keegan representing NPL

David James

Bill Walker East Brent Parish Council

Matters discussed

1.01 The name of the development is Pilrow Wind Farm.

1.02 The Inspector advised that the meeting is intended to address procedural matters in preparation for the opening of the Inquiry. It was not to discuss the merits of  the case either for or against the proposal.

Purpose and scope of the Inquiry

2.01 The Inquiry procedure will be that set out in the Inquiry Procedure Rules. Those unfamiliar with Public Inquiry procedures are invited to study these (available on the Planning Portal).

2.02 The purpose of the inquiry is to hear the evidence relevant to the applications which will enable the Secretary of State (SoS) to make a decision as to whether planning permission should be granted. The Inspector is an impartial person with no interest in the outcome of the Inquiry who will make an independent assessment and prepare a report for the SoS.

2.03 As a general point, the Inspector advised that he would not expect the (SoS) to be strongly swayed by generic criticisms of the efficacy of wind turbines as a means of producing energy. Wind turbines remain part of the Governments strategy for renewables for reasons of diversity, security of supply and overall sustainability. A number of more detailed arguments are considered in the National Policy Statements on Energy; that advice is endorsed by the Government. If these are to be contested then objectors will have to have very well argued criticisms if they contend that the advice should not apply in this case.

Appearances/ interested persons

3.01 NPL has ‘Rule 6’ status and will call about 13 witnesses on various subjects. The Council will call witnesses on landscape and visual matters and planning. The appellant will call witnesses on landscape and visual matters and planning; if necessary, witnesses will be available to answer questions on noise and cultural heritage. An ecological professional will be available for the conditions session if necessary.

3.02 There may be other persons who will wish to speak, both for and against the proposal. Their identities will be discovered at the start of the Inquiry and an opportunity provided for them to speak at a convenient time. Usually this will be after most of the evidence has been heard and is likely to be on Tuesday or Wednesday 14/15 January, but the Inspector would allow people to speak at other times if they could not attend later. The important thing is that everybody who wants to speak is able to.

3.03 It was agreed that it would be most appropriate in this case to hear the evidence on a topic basis.

Procedure and programme

4.01 It was agreed that the inquiry should be scheduled to last for 8 days beginning at 1000 on 7 January 2014. The site visit is expected to take place on Friday 17 January 2014. In view of the number of locations that could be visited and the limited hours of daylight, an additional day may be necessary.

4.02 Proofs of evidence are to be exchanged on 10 December

2013. In the event of rebuttals being thought necessary, these must be received at least 2 weeks before the start of the Inquiry. In practice this means before Christmas.

4.03 A draft inquiry programme is attached to these notes.

4.04 Each day will begin at 1000 and end around 1700 with a 1 hour break for lunch and 2 other comfort breaks. The Inspector anticipates ending earlier on the last sitting day of the week, say about 15.00-15.30

4.05 If necessary, an evening session will be organised for third parties to make representations. This is provisionally scheduled for Tuesday 14 January, the day before planning witnesses are heard. The Inspector is happy to hold this in a different venue if more convenient or if The Princess Hall is unavailable.

4.06 If necessary, the start and finish times each day will be adjusted by about 30 minutes to maintain progress in accordance with the Inquiry timetable.

Site visits

5.01 A preliminary unaccompanied site visit on public land in the vicinity of the appeal site and including some of the more distant viewpoints has been carried out by the Inspector. The accompanied site visit on Friday 17 can be attended by interested persons with the permission of the landowner, but no evidence will be heard at the site visit.

5.02 It is important that the locations of turbines are clearly indicated during the inquiry and site visit by a suitable method.

5.03 The parties agreed to prepare an itinerary for the site visit indicating those locations which may be visited unaccompanied.

Venue and facilities

6.01 The venue for the Inquiry will be The Princess Hall, Princess Street, Burnham on Sea TA8 1EH. A public address system is in place. The Council advised that retiring rooms are available. Parking spaces will be reserved for the main parties. The availability of the room in the evenings will be advised at the start of the inquiry. If required, the parties may need to place boxes of documents elsewhere in the building overnight.

6.02 Copies of Core Documents and proofs of evidence should be available for the public on each day of the inquiry. A plan should be made available, based on the Ordnance Survey at a suitable scale, showing the location of the turbines and associated development.

Issues to be addressed

7.01 Following receipt of further information, the Council considers that conditions could address matters of concern related to ecology. The single remaining reason for refusal relates to the Council’s concern that the effect of the proposal on the landscape character and visual amenity of the area would be unacceptable.

7.02 The Inspector’s initial assessment of the main issues to be addressed is as follows:

The effect of the proposed development on the landscape character and visual amenity of the surrounding area; and Whether the environmental and economic benefits of the scheme would be sufficient to outweigh any harm that might be caused.

7.03 NPL remain very concerned that English Nature’s concerns would not be properly covered by conditions and want to raise other matters. The Inspector confirmed that he wanted to hear about all matters of concern and if necessary, would define other main issues in the Report.

Nature and format of evidence

8.01 A Statement of Common Ground (SOCG) has been prepared.

The Inspector asked that it includes any relevant targets for installed capacity and the progress made towards meeting them in terms of schemes in operation, under construction and in planning. The Inspector asked that NPL provide comments on the SOCG.

8.02 The Inspector noted that a new 3 rd version of the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment has been issued. Proofs of evidence should take this into account where appropriate.

8.03 The Inspector asked that appendices are bound and paginated with tabs, preferably in a manner which does not fall apart in transport and which remains open during use to allow simultaneous examination of a number of documents. All pages in proofs and appendices must be numbered. 8.04 The Inspector asked NPL to note that interested parties should restrict their evidence to how the proposal will affect them personally. For instance, it is not expected that evidence from interested persons will repeat things seen or heard on the internet about wind farms. Nor does the Inspector expect to hear things he has already heard from other witnesses. It would be helpful to the SoS if a brief written note could be provided at the opening of the Inquiry or before people speak, summarising what the person is going to say including copies of any photographs or documents that are going to be referred to.

8.05 A list of proposed conditions that have been discussed between the parties should be made available at the start of the Inquiry, highlighting any areas of disagreement.

8.06 Each party is responsible for preparing sufficient numbers of copies of documents that they may wish to submit at the Inquiry. A photocopying machine will be available at the venue but without A3 or colour copying facilities.

Any other business

9.01 Opening submissions at the Inquiry to be restricted to around 15 minutes, please. Closings must be provided in writing and in ‘Word’ or equivalent electronic format.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       PJ 15 November 2013

PILROW WIND FARM INQUIRY – PROVISIONAL TIMETABLE V1

WEEK 1                                   Witnesses                                                    Topic_________________

LOCATION- The Princess Hall, Burnham on Sea

Day 1                                        Inspector Opening

Tuesday                                    Opening Statements

7 January 2014                         Sedgemoor (S Fancourt)                                 Landscape/visual amenity

10.00am                                                                                  

_________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                 

Day 2                                        Sedgemoor contd

8 January

10.00am                                    NPL

_________________________________________________________________________________                                                

Day 3                                        NPL contd 

9 January

10.00am                                    Broadview (G Stephenson)

_________________________________________________________________________________

Day 4                                        Broadview contd

10 January

10.00am                                    Float. Finish 1530

 

WEEK 2                                  Witnesses                                                            Topic______________

LOCATION The Princess Hall, Burnham on Sea

Day 5                                        NPL                                                                      Noise

Tuesday                                    12 witnesses TBA                                            Cultural Heritage

14 January                                                                                                              Ecology 

10.00am                                                                                                                  Living conditions etc*

                                                 Broadview

                                                 2 witnesses

                                                 3rd parties statements

Evening session                    At East Huntspill Village Hall - 7.30PM

__________________________________________________________________________________

Day 6                                         Sedgemoor (C Gomm)                                             Planning

15 January                                 NPL

10.00am                                    Broadview (M Dobson)

__________________________________________________________________________________

Day 7                                       AM Accompanied Site Visit

16 January                              (Subject to wearher conditions)                           

9.00am                                     PM - Unaccompanied visits

_________________________________________________________________________________

Day 8                                          Conditions*

17 January                                  Closings **

10.00am                                       

_________________________________________________________________________________

Programme shows 8 day duration including site visit. Landscape/visual matters may occupy less time than indicated.

*NPL witnesses may require additional time. To be adjusted on receipt of further information. Evening session to be confirmed on receipt of hall booking information.

**Written and electronic copies of closings and suggested conditions will be required

PJ 15 November 2013