Update from Chris White

All,

Some of you will already have received this email from the Planning Inspectorate (PI) to say the inspectors report will now not be completed until 3 June.  We should not be surprised that the inspector is having difficulty ‘due to the complexity’ of the inquiry.  This is direct result of the Minister using her Planning Inspectorate and calling this a ‘Public Local inquiry’ whilst recognising in her correspondence to several of us that she recognised this as ‘The All Wales Byelaws’ i.e. this was not a local issue.  Had the inquiry been run as a Public Inquiry an independent chairman would have been appointed who could have been supported by technical advisors.  Instead a planning inspector was selected with no knowledge of fisheries or their management.  Cynically I believe he was selected as he had sided with NRW on a planning inquiry based upon the precautionary principle, the whole of the NRW case was based on the precautionary principle. 

I have drafted a letter to send to the Minister.  The plan was to send this tomorrow evening but I will now hold this until 3 June.  It is interesting to note that Luke Davies who is standing in as head of Fisheries for WG since Jeremy Frost left, and it is Luke who will be sending out copies of the inspectors report but only once the Minister has made a decision and therein lays the problem. Having attended all 16 days of the inquiry I believed that we would receive a copy of the report at the same time as the Minister, there is nothing to stop this from happening and I cover this in my letter in the sprit of ‘openness’ which the Minister declared in her letter to me when explaining why she was using the planning Inspectorate.  I will not send you copies of the draft letter until this has been sent to the Minister however I think you should see this key paragraph:

The perception is that by choosing to call the Inquiry a ‘Public Local Inquiry’ it enabled you to use the Planning Inspectorate, a department you have responsibility for.  We also noted the appointment of an inspector who had apparently sat as adjudicator in an action brought by NRW who had instructed the same Solicitors in a case which we believe to a large extent turned as in the instant upon the doctrine known as The Precautionary Principle

I doubt that the Minister is aware of the way the PI manipulated how the inquiry was to be run however she is condemned by the statement in her letter to me which says: “The Inspectorate decided to apply these regulations in the case of the byelaws in view of their appointment and having regard to the reason for that appointment” it is the reasons why the PI was selected that gives cause for concern.

I think she may have to defend this statement at some point particularly following the judicial review brought by the widow of Carl Sargeant as the First Minister was criticised for using his own department to carryout an investigation into the facts around the Sargeant dismissal.  I am just firing a shot across the bows of the Minister and will leave it to the AM’s to bring her to task in the SENEDD.

Feel free to forward this, your AM’s may be interested as a considerable amount of public money has been spent on this inquiry, money which would have been better spent on actually addressing the core issues affecting fisheries – and that is not anglers!

Chris

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