The following guidelines should be useful if you participate at a hearing arranged by an Inspector. If you have a right to appear the Programme Officer will ask you if you wish to attend an appropriate hearing but if you cannot, or do not wish to attend your 'right' will expire.
If roundtable discussion or hearings are new to you:
- Attend the opening session, familiarise yourself with the layout, procedures and atmosphere of the hearing before your own appearance.
- Remember you have an important role to play in bringing local issues and views before the Inspector.
- This is your opportunity to outline your case at the Examination and in particular to the Inspector.
- The Inspector is there to give everyone a fair hearing and will not allow others who may be more familiar with the process to intimidate you or put you under undue pressure. The Inspector will go to great lengths to make sure that you are fully involved in the discussion. The Inspector will be interested in the 'local viewpoint'.
- Remember that the hearings are held to discuss the matters, issues and questions identified by the Inspector after having read the original representations and examination statements. You must address the agenda for the hearing and there should be no formal presentation of evidence. However in putting forward your case you can refer to your written statement and refer to the tests of soundness.
- When you want to speak upend your name board and the Inspector will bring you in to the discussion at an appropriate point.
- It is important to note that the inspector, although they may allow cross-examination of points made, will not reach a decision on any issues over which there is a difference of opinion at the hearing itself. Much like a court case the inspector will consider the evidence, the arguments made, and set out their findings in letters to the planning authority and ultimately their final report. That the inspector has not reached a decision there and then by no means that they have not taken full account of the points you have made.