Inquiry Reporters Unit: Review of the Year 2001/02
I have pleasure in presenting the sixth annual report of the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters Unit, covering the business year 2001-2002.
The report shows the extent to which performance targets have been increased year on year so that processing times for the most numerous cases have now been very significantly reduced. The Unit started this business year with even more exacting targets and I am pleased that, with one exception, all were exceeded. It is impressive that these improvements in performance have been achieved without compromising standards of fairness, openness, impartiality, and quality.
I note that the scope for further reduction in case processing times may be limited by present administrative arrangements and I shall therefore be consulting on the means of modernising the public local inquiry process in order to maintain the strengths of the existing system whilst enabling planning decisions to be made quickly so that the Scottish economy is not disadvantaged in a time of rapid change. It is essential that we ensure that those who are interested in a development proposal can make their views known and have them taken into account, without being intimidated by the process. The challenge in improving the public local inquiry system will be to secure that second aim without either prejudicing the first or introducing a lack of clarity of thought or a reduction in certainty. I regard each of these as being critical to the achievement of our objectives for social justice in the planning system.
Margaret Curran MSP
Minister for Social Justice