There is an air of concern in Witham about both the Gimsons application for 78 homes and this latest approved application for the nets.

Aside from the environmental and human impact, the most worrying thing is the amount of exceptional detail put forward in objection that never makes it into the officer’s report – a report that is thoroughly relied on by the committee before they make their decision.

We of course imagine that the people in charge at Braintree Council regularly do all they can to make sure that there are no breaches of the Human Rights Act, Aarhus Convention or Equality Act during this process.

Planning decisions are based on balancing competing interests and making an informed judgment against a local and national policy framework. Without bias, councillors must take account of all views while making decisions in the wider public interest.

We all accept the committee can’t read all the objections in full. Is there, however, any argument that the wider public interest position might be accidentally determined because not all of the detailed references to the policy framework or other lawful documents put forward in objection were heard?

How can the public be sure of impartiality and sound judgment by the committee if the balancing process keeps dumbing down the evidence that counters the officer’s opinion?

It is essential for the proper operation of the planning system that local concerns are adequately ventilated.

Just posting them on the planning portal is not sufficient. The committee can surely only be in a position to take a final decision after having heard all the relevant evidence and arguments.

Every citizen in the Braintree district has the right to access information on the environment and should expect the right is always being extended to councillors making important planning decisions.

Councillor Abbott stood up for these rights but the rest clearly have their own reasons for not doing so. Did they feel they had insufficient information in front of them to speak up?

Is it a lack of quality evidence and argument that causes us to be regularly submitted to ridiculous comments in justification from some committee members, comments that have absolutely nothing to do with planning law?

As planning guidance is meant to come directly from central Government a joint statement from the Rt Hon Priti Patel, James Cleverly and Robert Jenrick, either confirming Braintree Council is fully following Government guidance and they are completely happy with the planning process or that they are prepared to look at the way the reports to committee are being prepared, potentially excluding vital detail from the public and environmental voice for the sake of balance, would I am sure be welcomed by everyone.

Mr Hill

Barleyfields, Witham