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Where evidence is identified by an applicant it cannot be excluded from the copying requirement - PINS apologises for a legal error

June 2010

A BOAT application has collapsed at Simonburn, Northumberland. It was made in 2003 by Alan Kind, now Planning Officer to LARA and Legal Adviser to the TRF, but some of the evidence listed was not copied with the application. The legal requirement is that “copies of any documentary evidence … which the applicant wishes to adduce in support of the application” must be attached. GLPG pointed out to Northumberland CC the effect of Winchester but an attempt to correct the situation by NCC was held to be too late and the inspector decided to apply the NERC Act himself. It was inventively argued by the applicant that he had never intended to rely on selected parts of the evidence which therefore did not need to be copied. The inspector accepted the argument and proposed to confirm the BOAT order – see http://www.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/pins/row_order_advertising/councils/2010/documents/fps_R2900_7_53od.pdf for case FPS/ R2900/7/53. As no modification to the order was involved, it was necessary to appeal under Sch 15 of the 1981 Act. Happily the Planning Inspectorate forestalled the litigation by apologising unreservedly for the inspector’s legal error and the High Court has now quashed the order by consent with costs payable by Defra. The application will now be re-examined on a correct basis.

In passing, the inspector not only applied the inquiry rules wrongly but also made his decision without consulting the other parties. The appeal therefore would have been on a wider basis but for PINS’ concession. The question of inspector conduct is being registered with PINS.