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The truths they don't want you to read....

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Minded to refuse

An exclusive copy of the letter from the Government to LWP is NO LONGER* attached here. The funny pictures are due to the Government not embedding some fancy graphics properly.

I've read it quickly, and I'm appalled at some of the attitudes prevalent in the letter, and the implications of some of the attitudes set out in the document.

The key theme is "Economic criteria cannot be seen as overruling ecological criteria", which is the principal reason for refusal. Fair enough, but it appears that ecological criteria are treated as the primary assessment tool and economic criteria are dismissed.

The economic impact on Lewis is dismissed as there are other alternatives - namely the Eishken and Pairc windfarms, which implies that they will be approved - which can't be right as that prejudges so much that is yet to happen.

But most irritating of all is that the conditions placed on the application by the Comhairle appear to have been ignored. For instance, the objection raised by the Western Isles Fisheries Trust was virtually fully taken on board and became a planning condition to the satisfaction of the WIFT, yet it seems to have been rehashed and used to justify refusal.

I sense political meddling in the decision, forcing trivial points to become improbably important.

There were plenty of valid reasons to choose from if one wanted to find grounds for refusal, but damn few of them make there way into this document.

I'm bloody angry at the poor quality of the decision making process.

8/2/08: * I have removed the link until the response period has expired.
20/2/08: Link reinstated.


Anonymous said...

Looks like RSPB, Fisheries Trust etc know their stuff but the Comharlie staff dont.

There needs to be an independant inquiry into the Comharlie's handling of all this. It is a disgrace. They have clearly misinterpretated everything.

Impact on North Harris hills. Eishkien devloper must be very worried. If that applies as far north as LWP turbines were it clearly applies to the much closer Eishkien ones.

For me it looks like all 3 big developments are in grave trouble by the time you add in the Park buyout.

Good ridance.

Anonymous said...

I don’t suppose reading it slowly will make you change your mind?

Given that you were all for this development of course you will be disappointed by the reasons given for refusal.

'that ecological criteria are treated as the primary assessment tool and economic criteria are dismissed' seems fair enough to me.

I agree that the island needs to make a financial contribution to the Scottish economy. The contribution though should not be at the expense of the environment of the residents who stay here.

Anonymous said...

I hope we're not going to see a repeat of the Donald Trump saga over in Aberdeenshire, which really was a travesty of the planning process. I didn't read anything untoward, Angus. The application was shot to pieces, and it just looks like the planning process in the Comhairle (who was in charge of that again?) was poorly conducted.

Anonymous said...

Open meeting 2pm tomorrow in the chamber to see them discuss the farce.

Who will become the scapegoat?

Angus - the odds please!

Anonymous said...

Angus is right, political meddling won the day. Maybe if LWP had made a substantial donation to SNP coffers, (like Souter and Macdonald) the result would have been different. The present regime in Holyrood are making a mockery of the planning process with their very obvious interference. It will end in tears recrimination and possibly charges, any one remember Poulson, T Dan Smith and Pottinger of the Scottish Office? If memory serves me right, the original development of Avimore figured in the legal proceedings, which led to periods in the pokey for politicians and senior civil servants, and major reform of the planning laws. How ironic if the SNP, after a few short months in government, have become so blinded by power as to make all these basic blunders.

Anonymous said...

The Comhairle won't admit they've done anything wrong. They'll just blame the new guys in Edinburgh. That's the problem with 'independent' councils - they're all over the place on this and other issues. The councillors forget they are supposed to represent the elctorate. Once they are elected they think they know best! Exactly in whose interests are they acting?

Anonymous said...

I note that the chief planning officer at the time of the application - Alastair Banks - slipped out of the Western Isles a couple of years ago and is now living in oblivion in Orkney - nice one Alastair!

No escape for you though Angus......

Anonymous said...

Wouldnt it be nice to think that the Convenor and his Vice might do the honorable thing and quit. They are in it up to their necks and are still furiously digging.

To have squandered so much tax payers money is shocking. To have lied to islanders in unforgivable.

Perhaps the police should be called in to look at the misuse of public funds?

Anonymous said...

The decision was made when Alastair Allan and Angus MacNeil supposedly won their seats on the back of the anti-windfarm vote.

The SNP obviously have decided that the windfarm would be refused and have then worked on the grounds for refusal. By making the grounds all environmental, they cannot be accused of ignoring the economic issues and the promises by LWP / Amec that the work will all come to the islands.

It's a real cop out and proves that this government is as corrupt as any other. If the decision is a vote winner / buyer then it doesn't matter if it fair, right or sensible.

The Comhairle acted professionally and with integrity throughout this entire process. MWT were the dirty tricksters, threatening people to sign their letters and somehow they have managed to get the SNP on their side. I've witnessed their tactics first hand and the only good thing to come out of the refusal is that hopefully they will go back to their holes from whence they came.

Anonymous said...

Please provide evidence MWT "dirty tricksters" and "threatening"

If you can't, and will not put your name to this, please withdraw these liabellous comments

Angus said...

I'm proud of the role that I took in the decision making process, and I will not disavow that role in any way.

Looking back at the conditions we applied to the application it is easy to see at the preamble the issues that remained unresolved by the Comhairle.

Clause 5 (e) starts, "Without prejudice to the final terms of the Nature Mitigation and Compensation Management Plan, consideration should be given to the following requirements from SNH:
i. The developer should set out detailed measures for the minimisation and mitigation of impacts on peatland or upland habitats. Mitigation should include measures which take full account of site drainage issues."

Similar statements are made about Fisheries,Peat and Archaeology (for example).

The role and remit of the Comhairle was as the principal consultee NOT as the Planning Authority. We asked the Government to decide upon certain issues that we could not set as conditions, and it is the determination of these matters that have (largely) caused the refusal.

We considered the Designation issues before coming to a view, but we didn't have the power to say that the designations prevented the application proceeding. That was solely a matter for the Government as Planning Authority.

As the handling of the process was described as 'exemplary' by the Chief Planning Officer for Scotland, I'll take his praise ahead of your brickbats.

Anonymous said...

"but we didn't have the power to say that the designations prevented the application proceeding."

This is where gets very pantomime-esque.

Oh yes you did.........

Anonymous said...

Perhpas Anon 6:09 would care to let us mere mortals know where in planning legislation a consultee can take a planning decision....