For some time I have had serious concerns about the way that Planning Law is enforced on the Isle of Man and since December 2016 I have tabled 10 separate Tynwald and Keys questions about planning enforcement, as well as a few about specific planning enforcement failures.
Planning policy and enforcement falls under the remit of the Department for Environment Food and Agriculture (DEFA) and it’s current Minister Geoffrey Boot.
Unfortunately, things have come to a head with the introduction of a new ‘Operational Policy on Planning Enforcement‘ in August 2018 which it looks like the Minister and Political Members of DEFA have decided that the best way of dealing with their under-resourced enforcement division is to simply decide not to properly enforce planning law. This isn’t the fault of the enforcement team who have no choice but to work within the restrictions of this new policy.
This policy has had a direct negative impact on a number of my constituents and in my view does not allow for proper appropriate and proportionate enforcement of planning law. This policy and the approach it takes is not good enough.
The best and easiest way for a policy to be reviewed and it’s impact assessed is for the relevant Policy Review Committee to open a public investigation. So just before Christmas I submitted the attached letter to the Tynwald Environment and Infrastructure Policy Review Committee, chaired by Rob Callister MHK with Members Clare Bettison MHK and Chris Robertshaw MHK.
The letter asks them to open a public investigation into planning enforcement.
The letter highlights concerns that were brought sharply into focus by the Tynwald Commissioner for Administration in his recent report to Tynwald when he investigated a particular complaint that was referred to him. Many of the concerns and issues he encountered will be familiar to anyone who has tried to get suspected planning breaches addressed.
I gave all backbench MHK’s the opportunity to sign the letter (except those on the Committee for obvious reasons!), and I am grateful for the support of Daphne Caine MHK, Kate Beecroft MHK, Juan Watterson SHK and Dr Alex Allinson MHK who put their names to the letter.
I can only hope that the Committee do the right thing and open an investigation into planning enforcement on the Island as it is something that can affect all of us and our communities.