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.