Any case officers nightmare in the Lancs fracking case. You get legal advice – and both sides opponents and supporters get legal advice in the middle of the meeting, including from from a residents who happens to be a barrister. Just give up and let judges decide all fracking planning applications you might as well.
This is FOEs advice from Richard Harwood QC
I am no friend of fracking but this advice seems to be clutching at absolute straws. ‘Predicted sky glow is predicted to marginally exceed permitted standards’ come off it.
The trade body sought their own advice and asked for a short delay to finish it – the cllrs rejected this and refused the scheme.
The legal advice obtained by the council was secret but from what was said almost certainly suggested that costs would be forthcoming on a refusal.
I should note that Richard Harwood QC most definitely did not state that costs would be avoided. Though not ba fan of fracking FOEs conduct in this whole affair is disgraceful. They confused matters with legal advice commissioned with the aim solely of confusingh because of thweir strategic objection to Fracking in principle not regarding what was the key issue in this case and its materiality – noise levels. The fact that noise occurs 24hrs a day doesn’t make something a refusal reason by itself. After all substations hum 24hrs a day.
If costs are awarded against Lancs send the bill to FOE.
Tactically it would have been better if the Lancs advice was made public and their barrister had been at the meeting.
The trade bodies legal advice is telling
“Ashley Bowes [barrister] does not provide reasons why a refusal and departure from the officer’s recommendation would be reasonable. While he asserts that refusal could occur on landscape and/or noise grounds, he does not refer to evidence to justify this position.
“Noise is a highly technical issue where there is little scope for judgment. It is not open to the Council to say it does not accept the evidence of Arup or Jacobs in respect of noise, unless robust evidence can be provided to the contrary. In this case, Jacobs, the Council’s own noise consultant, has concluded noise impacts are acceptable and both Arup and Jacobs have responded to the contentions raised by MAS.Because noise is a technical matter with so little scope for interpretation it is one of the more common matters which give rise to an award of costs against a Council.
Or even better submit all legal opinions to a retired judge if they were conducting a JR on the issue of costs and publish the results, any party that disagreed should be required to fund Lancs or the applicants costs as a bond or be ruled out from being a party on JR.
This case will feature in memberr training in the future as case number one on how not to make decisions.