David Levy – Who holds the Government to account, when Parliament and the Courts are powerless? – May 17

Recent blogs have been dealing with the pointlessness of public consultation and the manner in which Government agencies handle applications for licences.

It boils down to two main types: straight forward granting of the licence and, secondly, making a show of deliberation whilst the reality is that the decision has already been made and its just about the timely manner deemed safe to announce it.

The more noise made by the public the more the application decision is deferred until the war of attrition leaves the corpses of good intentions by the wayside. The intention is to wear us down and hope we go away. Either way the decision is made before you ever get answers, if you do at all.

We have employed legal letters, but this has made little impact and in fact left us shorter of funds. All designed to weaken us and to force us into submission. It’s fact that so little is challenged nowadays.

Our recent engagement with the MMO has led to a plethora of questions on which we have sought answers for. They have not been given, and we know it is agency policy just to give the decision followed by an inadequate decision document.

This means the applicant will follow on from the decision with a prompt engagement with action, and if a legal challenge is made the judge will be reluctant to either a): overrule the decision, and b): rule against a company that has expended money getting on with it.

Marinet has made its markers with the MMO and associated Departments of State, establishing the legal questions that we wanted answering and the reasons why we saw the need for the answers before the decision document.

The Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons has been very critical of actions taken by DEFRA and the MMO in its report published May 2017. This is an influential body, but even they have no clout when it comes to decision making. So what chance the public, and also what chance the law?

Recently the Government was taken to the highest Court in the land over air quality standards and the breaches in European Law. They lost, but who enforces the law and who oversees the plan to improve air quality?

When air pollution from the UK poisoned the lakes and forests of Scandinavia we were fined millions of £s, but who tackles us now? The answer is nobody, and this makes the picture very depressing.

David Levy

 


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