BEST wants to see public informed of planning appeals
Information on planning appeal decisions can now be accessed on the Department of Planning’s website.
The move doesn’t go far enough to satisfy campaigners who want more transparency in the planning process.
The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce has called for appeals of decisions by the Development Applications Board to be made public.
Government recently began making some information on those appeals available on www.planning.gov.bm.
BEST chairman Stuart Hayward said his organisation welcomed moves toward making more information available.
However, he said that accessing the information could be made more convenient and the public should be informed when an appeal is launched.
“We [BEST] appreciate that the Department of Planning must grapple with an increasing number of applications but without a proportionate increase in staff power,” Mr Hayward said.
“Also, the Department is faced with converting from an all-paper filing and tracking system to one that integrates paper and digital handling of data and, at the same time, move from a relatively low-profile arena to one marked by calls for greater transparency and PATI (Public Access to Information). So we welcome every step that eases the availability of information on development matters
“With that in mind, we note that while appeal decisions are available online, they are readily accessible only if one knows beforehand the date of the DAB meeting at which the decision was minuted. One can download minutes by date, but only by scanning those minutes after downloading can one discover whether the DAB was notified of an appeal decision. So far, we are unaware that the system allows for searches of appeal decisions by the name of the applicant, the address of the development or the Planning number.
“Furthermore, while the decision is available, that is, the result of an appeal is available, there seems to be no mechanism for public notice that an appeal is taking place. The public is notified of an application for a development, but not of any appeal launched on that development’s approval or denial. To be fair, if someone objects to a development then they are notified of an appeal. But even if someone was not an objector, for whatever reason, they still should be able to know that an appeal has been launched.”
The website also allows users to find appeal cases that were decided in a certain time period and provides electronic copies of decision letters of more recent cases.