Defer and consult says council committee – but will we see meaningful consultation?
AS EXPECTED the East Riding of Yorkshire Council Planning Committee agreed this afternoon to defer the planning application from Associated British Ports (ABP) to construct the Humber International Enterprise Park on the Hedon Haven. But the committee also agreed to hold a pre-planning debate to enable a fuller discussion of the issues surrounding the application. There were several re-assuring voices on the committee calling for more consultation on the plans in local communities prior to being brought back to committee.
The proposed massive port-related development of the land from the Saltend roundabout to the village of Paull will potentially have massive impacts on the local area and in recognition of this, the East Riding Council will hold a pre-planning session with equal rights for supporters of the scheme and its opponents to present their cases. A similar thing happened with the Yorkshire Energy Park planning proposal when teams from both sides of the debate were given the opportunity to state their case.
At the Planning Committee meeting this afternoon, the ‘need for proper consultation’ and greater public dialogue on the development was raised by several councillors.
Councillor Nigel Wilkinson said that from statutory consultees ‘we need something more than just the standard responses’. Councillor Chad Chadwick, a previous resident of Burstwick, said he was familiar with the chaotic roads around the development site and that at a pre-planning session it would be useful to have a thorough ‘traffic management analysis’ presented. Councillor David Rudd said that it was important to ‘consult with Hedon and Paull on these big issues’. Councillor Leo Hammond agreed: ‘public consultation was important to make it work, and lessen the impacts on communities’. This was the view of the Chair, Councillor David Tucker, who said that ‘public engagement was key to getting communities on board’.
But it was Councillor Geraldine Mathieson who raised the prospect of ‘real consultation’ being undertaken. “Real consultation isn’t about telling people what’s going to happen,” she said, “it’s about offering real control and ownership of the process.”
This raises an important issue that is relevant to the local parish councils, PADEL (Paull Against Development of Enterprise Land) and other opponents: the ‘right to object and oppose’ needs to be an important part of any consultation. Meaningful consultation, to be meaningful, should respect the genuine outcomes of the process. If the outcome of local communities having a say is to decisively reject the proposed development – then would this mean the end of it? Perhaps it should be, but it probably wouldn’t be! But for a developer to plough forward in the face of local hostility would obviously not be the preferred option. So we can expect to hear the ‘hard sell’ from ABP before the pre-planning session takes place.
Getting communities on board with a scheme, to see its benefits and advantages, is the normal way to conduct consultation when initiated by those proposing a scheme – but in this case, is a consultation going to be about selling a scheme as expected, or are we really going to see something different?
Today’s meeting will be available to review on YouTube.
Ray Duffill, Editor.