Here is a brief description of how the Allerdale Planning Department works and how you can influence the decisions of the Council.
Prior to a full planning application, the applicant for a proposed development may ask the council for a SCREENING OPINION regarding the application. This serves to sound out the planning officers’ feelings with regard to the proposal and particularly the level of detail which will be required before the application will be considered. If an ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT is required it involves the applicant in a lot more work and increases his costs. At this stage it is possible to comment on the application and FORCE will usually do that but you may do so too if you wish.
The FULL APPLICATION starts a defined process which will be detailed on the council website. It may appear that a time limit for Comment given on the site has been passed but Comments will be accepted right up to the time of consideration by the development Panel so it is always worth making a Comment even if you think you might be too late.
At this stage all the STATUTORY CONSULTEES will be asked to comment as well as local households which may be considered to be very closely affected by the development. FORCE is automatically consulted on turbine applications because we have requested to be so. This is the time when it is most important that you make your views known to the Council, either by writing personally or by using the comment section of the application on the website.
It is better that OBJECTIONS are based on good planning principles and you will find elsewhere on this site some ideas which may be used if they fit your particular circumstances.
The PLANNING OFFICERS are professional employees of the council and they will consider the application on its merits and including any comments made by members of the public so it is vital that as many as possible are sent in. It is probable that local feelings will play an increasingly important part in these deliberations.
After consultation, the officers will decide to accept the application or refuse or, in the case of Wind Turbines, it will always refer the application to the PLANNING DEVELOPMENT PANEL. This panel is made up of elected councillors and will consider the application and the advice of the officers to accept or reject the proposal but will also consider the wider effects of the development on the area and their electors. They ultimately have to decide the fate of the application at council level but also need to give adequate planning reasons if they refuse the application.
If the application is refused the developer has the right to APPEAL to the PLANNING INSPECTORATE who are professional inspectors appointed by the Government to review planning decisions taken by a local council and they may overturn the refusal and allow the development to go ahead, perhaps with additional conditions imposed to protect the public. In extreme cases the final decision is made by the SECRETARY of STATE in the relevant department.