Incompetence or ?
It rather looks like a second Sheffield based EA water permitting centre manager (John Sweeney) has left the EA under "unusual "circumstances... (Dr. John Aldrick being the other) and I'd say - left his paw prints all over things connected to Avoncliff.
When I was made aware of the applications for a new abstraction and a proposed extension of the 2014 "Tarrant" impoundment license I was quite surprised to see that Ms. Lee was named as the Weaver's Mill license holder.
The transfer procedure laid out on the EA's own required WR165 transfer form appears to prescribe that a public notice is placed in the local newspaper of record (WR165 - Section 15). No such advertisement was placed. ( Wiltshire Times - Dec 2015, January 2016 or February 2016)
Yet again we have a license awarded under circumstances that the officials overseeing the dodgy transfer know to be very difficult to undo without recourse to Judicial Review. Water Resources Act 1991 S59A does not seem to have been adhered to. Even if discretionary powers mean that a public announcement can be deemed unwarranted - one might reasonably expect the owner of the other half of the weir to be informed as an "interested party"?
No doubt officials will claim this requirement to advertise is wholly discretionary - the language used in s15 of the transfer form seems to give the lie to that assertion.
If one reads the WR165 Section 15 - there would appear to be plenty of reason to actually refuse the transfer and revoke the license for non compliance with the condition of "Generation by Feb 2017" imposed as a condition of the 2014 "Tarrant" license. The EA has refused transfers of abstraction licenses on much thinner pretexts than this in other places.
It would seem that the present application to extend was cooked up in January 2016 and it was known at that time that the requirement of the 2014 license to be generating electricity by February 2017 would not / could not be met and that a 10 month delay in applying for an extension at the "11th hour" was adopted as a tactic - I'd suggest coached by an official seeking to unduly influence the outcome ... in order to further damage any prospect for North Mill to install / operate a generation scheme.
- We had repeatedly asked for Mr. Sweeney to be removed from anything to do with Avoncliff for lies, misrepresentation and bias - those complaints have been upheld by an official body who have investigated the matters at Avoncliff.
- The transfer of license was only it would seem made "public" last week in an answer to an email requesting the details as part of a request for electronic copies of the applications presently out for public consultation at Avoncliff - 10 months after the event and only when asked... transfer applied for on 8th and effective on the 25 January 2016.
- The file (.zip) containing electronic copies of the present applications out for public consultation was unfortunately corrupted between EA and Westwood.... and we have yet to receive a viable archive of the pdf files required to review the details as a part of the consultation which ends on Thursday 3rd November - i.e. next week. So... it would seem that the 100 mile trip to recover copies of the documents was worthwhile.