If you haven't the time to read the long version here are the edited highlights
1. We applied for a licence to enable us to use the water going over the weir to power a turbine- to generate electricity for our mill and the grid.
2. We were given draft licences and a letter saying that the full licences would follow.
3. 4 months after us the other mill owner also applied for a licence to use the same water.
4. We had agreed to give the permitting team ( the ones who give out licences) until the 30th June to tell us if they were giving us a licence or not (over twice the statutory decision window)
5. The Environment Agency couldn't / wouldn't decide
6. We applied to go to Appeal ( just like planning)- understanding that the matter would be "frozen" and that any decisions would be left to the secretary of state.
7. The Environment Agency decided to carry on regardless and gave the licence to the other mill owner
8. We couldn't go to Appeal any more because the water we wanted (and were told was "reserved" until our licence was determined) had been given to the other mill owner
9. We found out how the decisions had been made by asking for all the information using a Freedom of Information request.
10. We found out that their grounds for giving the other mill owner the licence was because he had filled in a form (Not a licence application at all) to tell them he'd like to use the water ( you don't have to do this)- they can't use this as a justification, as anyone can fill in a form, it is when you pay the licence fee that they know you are really serious about going ahead. When the licence fee has been paid, they have contracted to decide if you can have a licence- and there is a timescale they have to stick to and they have to decide one licence at a time.
11. We have had to employ a legal team to take our case to Judicial Review at the High Court.
12. The Judge at the initial Judicial Review permission hearing decided that the Environment Agency has a case to answer and so, we are waiting for a date for the full hearing.