MR Jessel is indeed correct when he says that democracy is ignored by Torridge District Council Planning ("Democracy gets ignored", Journal, June 27) .
I have been told by the council's solicitor that no notice is taken of the number of letters of either support or opposition to an application. This is despite the instruction in John Prescott's document The Planning System: General Principles, which states that: "The members of the local planning authority are elected to represent the interests of the whole community in planning matters.
"When determining planning applications, they must take into account planning considerations only. This can include views expressed on relevant planning matters.
"However, local opposition or support for a proposal is not in itself a ground for refusing or granting planning permission, unless it is founded upon valid planning reasons."
From this, it follows that planners must take into consideration local opinion as long as it is based on valid planning reasons.
Torridge received nearly 200 objections to the wind turbine application heard on June 6, and the majority cited valid and material planning reasons such as visual amenity or the negative impact upon tourism and employment.
Did they take any notice? The heck they did. And yet Torridge planners have the legal muscle at their fingertips if they were only to apply it.
For example, policy documents require that planning applications 'maintain and enhance' the natural environment. Most discussions by the plans committee concerning wind turbines are around the notion that they won't be too bad. That's not the same as maintaining or enhancing the environment.
Another example, relates to the health of those living nearby. Since April 1 2013, Torridge has had the statutory duty to improve the health of its residents under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
At the plans committee meeting of June 6, this was drawn to members' attention by Dr Richard Tiner, who provided research evidence of the adverse impact of wind turbines on health. Again, dismissed by the solicitor and the planning manager.
We can only hope committee members such as Chris Leather, who clearly reads the documentation and considers the arguments, continue to keep the faltering flame of democracy alight at Torridge.
Response from Torridge Distrct Council: All letters in support of or objecting to a planning application are attached to the report for members of the committee to read and take into consideration, and for members of the public to look at on our website.
A hundred letters making the same point will actually have the same weight as a single letter making that same point. It's about the quality of the actual point being made, not the number of times it is repeated.