A PUBLIC inquiry into a controversial scrapyard has been thrown out after a blunder by council chiefs meant a planning enforcement notice served on its owner never technically existed.
Christopher Brian Williams, from Saltney, lodged an appeal against an enforcement notice served on him by Flintshire County Council, which stated he had changed the use of land he owned in Saltney Ferry without planning permission.
The notice said Williams, who was jailed for six months in 2009 for operating an illegal scrap business from his backyard in Ewart Street, had been using the land in Saltney Terrace to store scrap motor vehicles and sell secondhand car parts.
But at an inquiry at County Hall, Mold, Welsh Assembly planning inspector Clive Nield said an error made by the council meant the notice was void, and he dismissed the inquiry.
He said the fact the notice stated Williams had to stop using the land for unauthorised activities ‘immediately’ made it a nullity under case law – meaning it technically never existed.
Mr Nield told the hearing: “Such a fatal error means the notice is no longer a notice, it is a nullity.
“I do not like to do this, but I don’t think I have got a choice.”
The mistake means the authority will now have to issue a new notice and start the process all over again.
Saltney councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun said: “I have made a formal complaint about this to the head of planning and I am demanding an investigation into how it happened.
“It is now going to cost extra time and money and has been a complete waste of resources.
“How can we expect the public to have confidence in any of the council’s departments when we cannot even get a basic planning enforcement notice right?”