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Anger In Whitehill
Anger erupted after a waste processing plant in Whitehill, Hamilton, which was refused planning permission from South Lanarkshire Council last year, got approval from the Sottish Government.
Clean Power want to create a plant on the site of the old Craighead School, Whistleberry Road, Whitehill, processing waste by pyrolysis and using the resulting gas to generate electricity and heat.
The precise process being used is new and untested in the UK and South Lanarkshire received 544 objections to the plan, which was rejected by councillors in May last year.
Residents were particularly concerned about emissions and the proximity of residential homes in Whitehill.
However, Clean Power appealed the decision to the Scottish Government and David Buylla, the reporter appointed by Scottish ministers overturned the council’s decision and approved the plan on Friday.
Councillors Monica Lennon and David McLachlan, who campaigned against the plant with residents, are angry at the decision and would like to see it appealed.
Councillor McLachlan was particularly concerned about travellers living on a council-approved caravan pitch around 83m from the site.
Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) makes mention of a 250m buffer between homes and plants such as the one proposed, but the reporter has dismissed this argument saying the buffer zone is not mandatory.
Mr Buylla writes in his report: “It is necessary to consider each proposal on its merits and a separation distance of 250 metres cannot be regarded as mandatory. I do not therefore regard the absence of a 250 metre buffer from residential property a significant consideration in my assessment of this proposal.”
Councillor McLachlan feels the travellers living there have been ignored.
He said: “I don’t think they have paid proper regard to the fact people are living in that area.
“There should be a 250m buffer zone. To ignore that because it’s not mandatory is not giving due regard to people who live 83m from the site.
“I would fully support an appeal because of the background and the work already done.”
The reporter rejected concerns about emissions on the basis that the council’s environmental health team, the roads authority and Transport Scotland all raised no objections.
Councillor Lennon feels local concerns have been brushed aside by the Reporter. She said: “This is a sad day for local democracy. The community spoke loud and clear against this development and South Lanarkshire Council rightly concluded that planning permission should not be granted. It’s simply not the right location.
“The concerns of the local community, councillors and the council have been swept aside because the Scottish Government is failing to deliver on its own energy infrastructure and Zero Waste targets. Whitehill should not have this plant thrust upon it just because Scottish Ministers in Edinburgh are trying to save face.”
Head of Planning and Building Standards at South Lanarkshire Council Michael McGlynn has not indicated that the council will appeal the decision.
He said: “The council’s decision to refuse consent, in part, reflected the community’s concerns and we are therefore disappointed with the appeal decision.
“However, we will abide by the findings of the Reporter appointed by the Scottish Government.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “After careful consideration of all the information submitted by the parties, including two accompanied inspections of the site and a hearing session on noise, the reporter upheld the appeal.
“The outcome of the appeal may be challenged at the Court of Session within six weeks of the decision date.”