The Coal Authority has defended the launch of its new Planning and Technical Advice service and denied that it is crossing into business of the consultants it serves as several industry specialists have suggested.
The Coal Authority has said that the new service is led by its chartered town planners and is designed to give “developers and land owners peace of mind when considering development or other activities within areas of past coal mining activity”.
A number of GE readers have suggested that as a government-funded body, the Coal Authority should not be moving into the consultancy arena and were “crossing lines”.
Coal Authority principal development manager Chris Telford told GE that that the Coal Authority has a statutory role in relation to advising local planning authorities on the implications of coal mining legacy for proposed development.
He added: “Frequently developers wish to talk to us directly, whilst they are in the process of preparing a planning application. Our Planning and Technical Advice service enables them to obtain such pre-application advice directly from us, to establish whether or not objections would be raised if we were to be formally consulted on a planning application made on a similar basis. Our pre-application advice is charged on a cost-recovery basis only.
“Our services relate to our formal role as a statutory consultee in the planning process. We are not aiming to directly compete or divert business away from consultants. On the contrary, we work closely alongside those consultants to facilitate the consideration of coal mining legacy issues at the outset and it is proving to be popular with developers.”