As we have advised previously, the elements of our casework which are due to progress with an oral hearing are providing the greatest challenge. We have been actively exploring alternatives to hearings in person since the government restrictions came into place. Our sponsor body is the Department of Justice and we have called on their technical knowledge to help take this forward. The product Zoom cannot be used at this point in time for oral hearings. WebEx, the NICS video conferencing model, is currently being tested against the required governance standards including a data protection impact assessment. This will hopefully be available to us in the near future. You may already be aware we are testing Sightlink which is currently in use in the courts for remote hearings. We hope to run our first remote hearing in the next four to six weeks.
We conducted an engagement event on 1June alongside the Northern Ireland Planning Bar Association, the Royal Town Planning Institute (also representing the RSUA), and three local councils. The engagement group was very useful as it enabled us to discuss our thought process and take on board the views of representatives across the board. Further guidance is being developed in respect of remote hearings and will be available in due course.