This throws into sharp relief the total failure of our planning laws. The Council’s costs are from having to take on the four nearly identical planning applications submitted by Western Power Distribution. Clearly there is something very wrong with our planning laws when a multi-national company can take ownership of a well loved local beauty spot with the sole aim to destroy it for financial gain and make the local community pay a substantial sum to stop them. The owner of Western Power Distribution, the American company PPL (formerly known as Pennsylvania Power and Light), made $1,495,000,000 in 2011 so its not like they need the money! If Cardiff Council had lost this case it would have given the green light to the super wealthy massive corporations, like WPD, to develop almost any land they wished, knowing local councils would run scared of having to pay a heavy financial price to take them on.
It is very wrong that a corporation like WPD/PPL can propose vitually identical planning applications and for each planning application a whole separate process is required which can involve some or all of the following stages:
- local people having to object;
- then council officers and councillors having separate meetings to turn each one down and the application gets 'called in' by the Government Minister;
- then there's a Planning Inquiry which finds against the developer;
- then the developer goes to appeal which the council has to defend and the developer loses;
- then the developer brings in the lawyers and takes the council/Government to the High Court!
And when the council's cabinet member for strategic planning, Councillor Ralph Cook, says “I think there are also many people in Cardiff that will think spending nearly a million pounds was not money well spent”, he would do better explaining to those people the importance of preventing reckless, irresponsible development and not de facto supporting the position of powerful multinationals.