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The first day of the Planning Inquiry started off with opening statements. This is where each side in this planning inquiry sets out their case.

Mr Mark Westmoreland Smith representing MVV (the appellants) set out the case for changing the boundaries of the land onto highway agency land. He then focused on the relevant local and national policy and argued that questions over ecology, hydrology, socio-economics, health, landscape and adequacy of environmental information have been answered in the application. He said that this meant he does not accept Buckfastleigh Community Forum’s case.

Following on, Mr Rupert Warren QC summarised Devon County Council’s position (DCC). He acknowledged that ecology, hydrology, socio-economics, health and landscape concerns were not problematic for DCC. He said however there were transport concerns and concerns over alternative sites that are more appropriate in his view.

Finally Mr Charlie Hopkins, representing Buckfastleigh Community Forum, made his statement and set out the case for the community of Buckfastleigh. He began by explaining that national policy set out to improve local people’s lives. He then summarised that over the next few weeks he would bring evidence that raised concerns over matters like ecology, hydrology, health, cultural wellbeing, conservation and enhancement of the natural environment and traffic concerns. He emphasised that the proposal is a corporate need not a public interest need.  Planning policy dealt with public interest. Therefore it was right to refuse the application.

The day then continued with evidence from Devon County Council. Mr Keegan, who is a planning consultant, explained that there are three other sites that are better suited and that national and local planning policy meant Buckfastleigh was not the right place for this kind of thing. He said there was not enough scrutiny by MVV of other sites; for example around Plymouth. He also said that the economic assessment over the Buckfastleigh site was lacking.

The appellants (MVV) then started cross examination. This basically means that the evidence that was given was questioned and tested. The cross examination today focused on Mr Keegan’s interpretation of local and national policy is correct. Cross examination will continue tomorrow.

Tomorrow Wednesday 26 June 2013 there will be a site visit of Whitecleave Quarry by the Planning Inspector and parties to the inquiry. The inquiry will resume at 10.15 am. Mr Keegan will be cross examined. Georgi Gilpin (of Gilpin Demolition) is scheduled to give evidence later in the day tomorrow.

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7 thoughts on “Day 1 Tuesday 25 June 2013

  1. In his opening statement, MVV’s guy really laid it on about how there was no objection on any health, environmental, pollution, noise, dust, wildlife from anyone, mentioning DCC, Natural England and Dartmoor National Park.

    DCC’s only objection is that Buckfastleigh is not the best place for the site (mainly due to the unsustainability of the road traffic across such a distance). Various sites nearer Plymouth would be better.

    It really emphasised to me how abandoned we have been by all the agencies that should be looking out for our interests, and how our case has been undermined by this. If it hadn’t been for our own efforts, there would have been no mention of anything else other than whether possible alternate sites closer to Plymouth might be better suited.

    Charlie Hopkins did a great opening speech – highlighting the government’s own policies on sustainability and the improvement of our lives as priorites.
    Will they be shamed into recognising that the dump plans contradict this? Or will we see proof yet again that government localisation and environmental policies merely pay lip service to community needs whilst really serving only big business?

    Come on Mr Planning Inspector – do the right thing!

  2. If as reported in the Western Morning News this morning the planning inspector does what he says and I quote ”John Woolcock said he would determine the appeal based on a number of factors, including the compatibility of plans with planning frameworks, impact on the ”character and appearance” of the area and the effect on neighbouring residents”. Then it is a no brainer he will throw out the application!!
    There is however a suspicion that we have been stitched up!! I am with Andy regarding the agencies that are supposed to be protecting habitat and wildlife. Their attitude and lack of action disgusts me!
    Finally a big thank you to the law students for the blog!!

  3. ..and meanwhile MVV continue to build the monster totally disregarding local residents and Plymouth City Council allow it when the other parts to the chain are not decided upon…..carry on building with no site for the ash and no destination for the ‘aggregate’. Appalling from start to finish – all officers/councillors who have sanctioned each part of this should hang their heads in shame. Buckfastleigh – we in Plymouth support you and have everything crossed, not because WE don’t believe you but because we pray that DCC can see it for themselves, based on the hard work and evidence you supply, and do the right thing…refuse it!!

  4. The problem I am seeing increasingly is that once planning permission is granted, in this case for the Plymouth Incinerator by a Tory council, democratic process is subsequently suspended.
    As I understand it, when the people of Plymouth exercised their democratic right and elected a Labour council, on the back of their promise to stop the incinerator, they discovered that if they did so, the amount of compensation they would have to pay to MVV would run into millions – it would have bankrupt the council and they were forced to abandon the plan they were elected on…
    So democratic process is being overridden by economics in favour of multinational corporations.
    The same thing is happening on a larger scale with the new round of Nuclear power plants – planning permission was recently granted to build the first of them in Somerset at Hinkley point, against the majority of public opinion in this country (which has been opposed to new nuclear since the Fukushima disaster). Since Cumbria refused to allow the dumping of nuclear waste, there is now nowhere in the country for it to go. But nethertheless the building of these reactors goes ahead regardless, and God help any democratically elected body that tries to stop it.
    What kind of mess are we storing up for future generations? IMO these decisions are too important to be left to the vagaries of market forces. Don’t get me started on Trident replacement (£100 billion+ when public services are being slashed)!! GRrrr

  5. Thank you for posting this, for those of us that ‘lurk’ on this forum its great to be able to get a real flavour of whats going on. Just because we are quiet doesn’t mean we don’t care. I’m so proud of our town and whats being achieved – thank you.

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