What QC John Campbell said for CRA & The Battle Trust to Planning Committee .. which they decided to ignore.
We are immensely grateful to John Campbell QC for his pro bono presentation to The Planning Committee on September 2nd 2014. Here's the text:
Application No. 14/00456/PPM
Proposal Planning permission in principle for an onshore substation, electricity cables and associated infrastructure
Location: Land Adjacent To Cockenzie Power Station at Prestonpans Battlefield site
Applicant Inch Cape Offshore Limited
John Campbell QC speaks for the Coastal Regeneration Alliance and Battle of Prestonpans Battlefield Trust 1745.
One matter only; the application for the transforming electrical infrastructure proposed to be sited ON the Battle of Prestonpans Battlefield.
"In the last month massive local interest has emerged in this application and generated a wave of local concern.
"Request is to defer a decision so that local people, who all have to live with the consequences of your vote, can understand better what is proposed, and either share their support for what is proposed or voice their legitimate concerns in the correct way. That hasn’t been done in this case.
"Suggest a period of two months would be sufficient. This is a case where the Planning Authority must be absolutely sure what it’s doing. It cannot be in that condition today."
There are nearly a dozen good reasons.
1 Law first; the site’s in Open Countryside. You have to apply the Development Plan [DC1]
At a pinch, its infrastructure, but even at that there is no clear need for it to be here in this position. There is a massive vacant site next door, absolutely convenient for the purpose of transforming wind farm energy from the Inch Cape windfarm into usable power.
The Planning Officer [PO] says (page 5) that DC1 isn’t breached because IF consent is given for the windfarm, THEN there would be an “operational requirement” for this proposal. Cart before the horse.
But an operational requirement is to accommodate something that exists, not something that might exist if the Scottish Ministers consent a far off windfarm. All that’s on the website are scoping documents for their EIA. Not even an application yet5.
Where is the operational requirement? Give the words their proper meaning. They want to put electricity transforming infrastructure on the site of a Registered Battlefield to support a project that doesn’t yet have consent? Hardly a requirement.
1A Location: NOWHERE does the PO say that the “operational requirement” has to be in this very location. Reasons for it having to be within the Battlefield area are not given.
Yet, the energy park land next door is within the same ownership and is currently subject to the Energy Park proposal with which the PO report confirms this proposal is compatible. The PO acknowledges that there is nothing to suggest that that this transformer proposal would prejudice the possible future development of Cockenzie Power Station and Coal Yard for an Energy Park.
This application fails this hurdle. Contrary to DC 1 – refuse, or let’s be generous, give them a couple of months to produce an explanation.
You should get the applicants to explain coherently to the public why the transformer equipment cannot be within the Energy Park which it allegedly supports.
1B Battlefields Trust and Historic Environment Policy: The national Battlefields Trust were not initially consulted on the scoping or this application. The Trust has subsequently written to ELC in objection. The letter should be considered a material consideration for the Application. Specifically, it relates to the proposal being contrary to the SHEP. The SHEP policies did not feature at all in the PO Report.
i.e. 3.85. change [on battlefields] should be managed carefully in an informed sympathetic way that respects the value of battlefields and protects, conserves or enhances their key landscape characteristics and specific qualities.
They also highlight that the site proposed is accepted as the likely site of the mass graves, excavated on the day of the battle.
2 Public Consultations: These were poorly advertised. The description of the Application is misleading and is suggestive of what a layman would consider to be a sub-station, rather than the very large compound, external equipment and two major buildings now proposed.
3 The Battlefield Part of this is about the Battlefield. Celebrated locally, registered Nationally. People have said it was the high point of the Young Pretender’s Campaign, when the British were defeated; just as Culloden was the low point, when the roles were reversed. Songs, poems, novels, have been written; tapestries and paintings have been designed and woven, history has come alive for so many people in so many different ways. It’s right here, in the DNA of these villages. Today of course, the Waggon Way runs right through the site, as kids use it to go to school and people walk and cycle among their communities. Its very important, and central to the idea of community among the coastal villages.
4 Character The scheme proposed is not of the same character as that which was the subject of the Community exhibitions. The descriptions and visuals at the Consultations did not make it clear that the proposal involved the construction of two very large buildings, significant external equipment, a large fenced compound extending substantially beyond the building line and high earth bunds. In other words, it’s not innocuous.
5 Responses: The poor description of the scale of the proposals resulted in poor levels of local response. However, at an open meeting on 18th August over 600 concerned locals voted with an overwhelming majority that they did not want the development of further industry or generation facilities on the Cockenzie site or adjacent to it. This vote made specific reference to Inch Cape’s proposals. This constitutes significant, relevant and substantial local objection based on proper planning grounds. There is another such meeting tonight (Tuesday). Prestonpans CC are not in support of this application.
6 Site Boundary: The Application continues to show a large site boundary, covering a large part of the undeveloped Battlefield. Granting consent for the Application as it stands would give permission for the use of significantly more ground, currently zoned DC1, for industrial use. The proposed Conditions are inadequate to prevent subsequent inappropriate development of this ground or use, by the applicant, for a related use. The site boundary should in any event be reduced.
7 Scottish Planning Policy §149: states that planning authorities should seek to protect, conserve and, where appropriate, enhance etc. sites on the Inventory of Battlefields. Nothing about this proposal even tries to achieve this objective.
8 Historic Scotland: The Government Agency’s fulsome response to the Scoping document raised strong concerns regarding the potential for significant adverse effects on the Battlefield. The Agency’s subsequent blunt statement in response to this application, confirming that they did not object to the proposals, is so at odds with their initial statement as to raise significant concerns.
9 Archaeology: ELC’s Archaeologist is concerned, as is BPHT and TBT. Who is right?
10 Visual Representations: The visuals submitted are misleading and unnecessary for an application for PPIP. They show the Power Station as it appeared earlier this year and make no allowance for the currently ongoing demolitions of the chimneys, conveyor, conveyor towers or coal plant buildings. Statements that the proposals appear in line with the existing appearance are already outdated, and therefore you are being misled.
Conditions: The conditions [set by PO] are framed generally as if they related to a full Planning Permission and not to a PPIP. Several of the proposed Conditions are unenforceable:
1 The statement generally accords no value to the battlefield; once its gone, its gone forever.
2 The undefined dark green colour of the switchgear building is distinct from the Control room building);
3 The Applicant cannot ensure that the railway link is kept available for use as they do not own or control any of the line or have any agreements in place over its beginning or end;
4 A Rochdale envelope is not carte blanche to do anything.
Outcome. Fails the policy test. Refuse unless material considerations. There are none in support except the unsupported idea that one day Cockenzie, Prestonpans and Port Seton may be the landfall for a cabled electricity supply from a windfarm off the Angus Coast..
1 Refuse, without prejudice; or
2 Suggest reconsideration and resubmission; or
3 Suggest relocation onto the industrial site already zoned for the purpose; and
4 Reduce the red line boundary, and therefore;
5 Defer a decision by adjourning the matter two months.
JOHN CAMPBELL QC
For Coastal Regeneration Alliance and Battle of Prestonpans Battlefield Trust 1745
1 September 2014
Published Date: September 3rd 2014