It is entirely appropriate that an Environmental Impact Assessment accompanies any planning application with a significant impact on the environment such as a new building or the erection of a wind turbine.
It is understandable that the Impact Assessment is paid for by the applicant. At present it is not only paid for by the applicant but also instructed directly by them.
Therefore, if the applicant does not like the results, and /or the results are not conducive to the development proceeding, the applicant can simply instruct another Environmental Assessment to take place until they get a report that can be submitted with the application that enables the development to proceed unhindered, or can make it clear to the inspector (whom they are employing) what results are required at the outset.
At present the system is heavily open to bias and undue influence by the applicant. Why would we think the applicant will not want to make sure that their scheme proposed will proceed unhindered???
We are not stating that all Environmental Impact Assessments are inaccurate, but why does the Planning System rely on those who have a vested interest in the development proceeding being the ones to instruct and be responsible for submitting the Assessment?
Surely this should be Independently assessed. The applicant should pay but should not have direct control over the person carrying out the inspection.
Evidence of endangered species and protected species may not be noted either by inaccurate inspection or by deliberately not noting their existence. An example of such an issue is located in Devon where the supporting information in a Planning Application about the proximity of protected species such as Owls and Badgers in a New Application for a Wind Turbine at Yelland Farm in Torridge District Council Area.
The Environmental Impact Assessment suggests that there are no affected habitats close by. However there have been reports by residents nearby of Owls, Badgers, Bats and other fauna, all within close proximity to the proposed location of the Turbine.
Who is one to believe ? Those that visit the site once or twice and have a vested interest in reporting for their client that there is little or no Environmental Impact in their proposal, or should one believe local residents who see the local wildlife on a daily basis?
The logical solution is to have the Applicant pay a fee to the Local Planning Authority and for the Local Planning Authority to have a register of suitably qualified or licensed Assessors. The Local Authority therefore instruct the Assessors directly, and this in turn enables an accurate and fair assessment of the true Environmental Impact to be made.
Any error would then be either blatant error or outright bribery rather than the present system which is so open to abuse and cannot provide an impartial assessment of any scheme.
The Local Authority Planning Department should be able to consider the independent facts, rather than just the potentially biased information provided to them by the applicant.