The report in the County Times on May 29, that the public are being shut out of the planning process is very concerning.

The decision taken in January, without any publicity, means planning applications concerning larger developments where there is a higher risk to the environment and which, by their nature, are more likely to require greater scrutiny will not go for democratic consideration by the Planning Committee unless the planning officer decides they should or the local county councillor ‘calls it in’.

Calling in is suspended at the moment by the way.

This could include applications for: waste disposal – installations for hazardous waste; quarries and open cast mining sites over 25 hectares; nuclear power stations; intensive poultry and pig rearing units (over a specified number of animals); and the extraction of natural gas and petroleum.

I notice that the spokesperson for PCC does not try to justify or explain the decision to restrict access to the Planning Committee but merely states it had gone through the democratic process.

However checking this on PCC’s website calls into question how democratic this process was.

This and other changes to process, was put to the full council on 23 January 2020 buried in the middle of a 276 page document, marked only by the crossing out of some words in ‘tracked changes’.

The minutes of the meeting clearly show that the changes overall were presented to Councillors as being administrative or cosmetic and makes me wonder how many of the Councillors were fully aware of what was being put to them.

To reduce the democratic scrutiny of planning applications of such importance cannot be described as cosmetic or administrative.

It looks like Powys County Council has sought to hide this major change to planning procedures from the public. Well tough luck, PCC, you have been found out! It is now incumbent on the Council to rescind this attack on democracy accountability immediately.

John Brooks