FOI request (FOIR-387006078)
Planning Enforcement Enquiry: ENF/21/00313 Rocklands Private Caravan Park, Rocklands Lane, Hastings, TN35 5DY
Requested Mon 20 December 2021
Responded Thu 03 February 2022
If I understand your reply you are claiming that a tree fell in area W4 and was then moved into area W1. You refuse to answer any of the questions that would clarify the case.
Witness accounts state that several tree stumps were seen in area W1 still growing in the ground cut to near ground level. Your explanation does not explain the presence of these tree stumps which show that works were carried out in area W1 without permission.
Furthermore it was observed that trees were being cut into logs in area W1. Your claim that these trees came from area W4 also conflicts with this observation. Surely entire trees would not be transported from W4 to be cut into logs in area W1? Surely any trees that fell would be cut into logs in area W4. Further clarification is required. Strong doubts remain that unauthorised tree works took place in area W1.
Your confirmation that tree works took place in area W4 shows that works took place in the Scheduled Monument. Such works require Scheduled Monument Consent.
You are mistaken that I need to explicitly request information through information regulations. ICO guidance is clear that such requests can be made (including in the form of questions) without specific reference to the information regulations. The local authority is obliged to take the request as an information request and treat it under the terms of the information regulations. Your response fails to do so. Please see the ICO guidance at https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/official-information/. Please take my request as a formal request under EIR.
Evidence has been requested to support the enforcement decision. This evidence was requested to ensure that public confidence in the enforcement system is maintained. Previous examples cited show that Enforcement has failed to maintain such confidence in the past. You state that the questions are not relevant but they have been asked to confirm that proper procedure has been followed in this case. Please provide the requested evidence under EIR.
I have not asked for any historic enforcement issues to be investigated. I have merely asked for this current issue to be properly investigated and adequate evidence that Enforcement is following proper process to be supplied.
Please provide answers to the questions originally asked under EIR:
1. Demonstrate the location of the collapsed tree. Please mark on the TPO map provided below.
2. State the species of the collapsed tree.
3. State the cause of the collapse. Was the collapse due to disease, land stability or other issues?
4. If the tree collapsed due to land instability issues please state what measures will be taken to ensure the land is stabilised.
5. Was the collapse sudden and did it pose a threat to safety?
6. Explain why several stumps were observed yet HBC claim that a single tree had collapsed.
7. Provide the date that the tree was removed. Was this prior to or after the site visit?
8. Did HBC observe the remains of the tree(s) removed or was the site cleared by the time of their enforcement visit?
9. Describe the nature of the structure that the tree collapsed onto.
10. Confirm that a replacement tree will be planted.
11. Confirm that HBC's Tree Officer inspected the collapsed tree.
12. Confirm that the entire Rockland's site was inspected for unauthorised tree works as requested in our enforcement query.
13. Confirm that a formal Planning Contravention Notice was issued and provide a copy.
14. Confirm whether Rocklands reported the condition of the collapsed tree prior to removing it and the date of such notification.
15. Confirm whether Rocklands gave the necessary 5 days prior notice for emergency works before removing the tree and what date such notice was given.
16. Confirm whether Rocklands sought the advice of a qualified tree specialist prior to carrying out works.
17. Confirm whether Rocklands have provided retrospective notice of the works and what date such notice was given.
18. Provide copies of all site visit notes, photos taken during site visits.
19. Provide copies of all other documentation held by HBC on this matter.
20. Provide copies of all correspondence between HBC and Rocklands concerning this matter.
21. Provide copies of all copies between HBC employees concerning this matter.
22. Explain why it has taken six weeks provide a response to our enforcement query.
Please provide answers to these new questions following your response:
23. Did the enforcement officer visit area W1?
24. Explain why tree stumps still growing in the ground were observed in area W1.
25. Was Scheduled Monument Consent obtained prior to the works taking place in area W4?
Both the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) are based on recorded information held by a local authority, it is not a tool to answer questions, seek opinions or ask for comments.
The questions you have asked for below are not requesting recorded information, therefore, fall outside the remit of the Acts.
We are able to provide information where it is recorded to the following:
• Provide the date that the tree was removed. Was this prior to or after the site visit? - Tree was collapsed on 28th August, the tree was moved to a safe location on 31st August.
• Confirm that HBC's Tree Officer inspected the collapsed tree. - Confirmed, the Council's Arboriculturist visited the site to inspect the collapsed tree.
• Confirm whether Rocklands have provided retrospective notice of the works and what date such notice was given. - No notice was required as the tree collapsed due to poor condition rather than being intentionally felled.
• Did the enforcement officer visit area W1? - A site visit to Rocklands Caravan Park was conducted by the assigned Planning Enforcement Officer on the day that the matter was reported (13th October) who visited area W1.
• Was Scheduled Monument Consent obtained prior to the works taking place in area W4? - No, the works which took place (chopping the collapsed tree into smaller logs) did not require Scheduled Monument Consent.
NOTICE OF REFUSAL
Under Environmental Information Regulations the information you have requested in relation to (please see list below) re: Planning Enforcement Enquiry: ENF/21/00313 Rocklands Private Caravan Park, Rocklands Lane, Hastings, TN35 5DY is being refused under Exception 12(5)(b) 'The course of justice and inquiries'.
• Provide copies of all site visit notes, photos taken during site visits.
• Provide copies of all other documentation held by HBC on this matter.
• Provide copies of all correspondence between HBC and Rocklands concerning this matter.
• Provide copies of all copies between HBC employees concerning this matter.
The course of justice has a wide meaning which includes material covered by Law enforcement, investigations and proceedings.
This exception are subject to a Public Interest Test. This means that a public authority can refuse to disclose information under these exceptions if in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
Factors for disclosure:
a. Transparency and accountability.
Factors against disclosure:
a. Protecting information that has been acquired during investigations.
b. Correspondence contains confidential information.
c. The significance and sensitivity of the information.
d. Consideration of options and the exchange of views within a 'safe space'.
e. Maintaining the confidentiality of discussions in the interest of good governance and the perceived threat to candour and boldness in the giving of advice.
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