Notification failures leave connector plan untested

A reporter has refused to consider an appeal for a wind farm connection in Fife after finding that the developers had failed to notify all affected landowners along the route.

The proposal comprised a 15-kilometre underground electricity cable, a substation and a transformer. Despite an appeal having been lodged and accepted as valid, the reporter, after reviewing the appeal papers, found that the developers had not served notice on all requisite landowners under section 35(4) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.

He then invited the appellants to correct this omission before he addressed the merits of the scheme. This led some landowners to question the legality of this course of action and generated comments from other landowners likely to be affected but who still had not received notification of the proposal.

The reporter rejected claims that it was beyond his power to determine the appeal when the application had clearly been legally and procedurally flawed. Neither did he accept that his invitation to the appellants to correct the erroneous certification procedure meant he was predisposed to allow the appeal. The mechanism to correct this flaw in the procedure would not prejudice any party, he maintained.

However, he remained concerned that some landowners along the route had still not been notified. The appellant’s agent had available information on how to determine whether the route of the cable would be on highway land or land owned by third parties, he reasoned. In that light, he held, it was not permissible to assert that all reasonable steps had been taken to notify potentially affected owners.

Report: David Russell; Written representations

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