THE REJECTION of his attempt to have the GSK wind turbine planning application discussed by the full Angus Council has come as a great disappointment to Councillor Mark Salmond.
His motion was to redefine ‘major’ planning applications that have to be debated by all 29 Angus councillors. As things stand, the GSK application only needs to be heard by the 10-member development standards committee.
Councillor Salmond believes that other applications in other parts of Angus may fall foul of the council’s standing orders. Whilst such applications may not meet the wider criterion of ‘major’, there is no doubt that in their own area they are regarded as very significant indeed.
The matter was aired at Thursday’s meeting of the full council in Forfar, but it was defeated by 25 votes to five with the two Montrose Alliance councillors [Messrs Salmond and David May] among those in favour.
He told the Review: “I’m very disappointed that was the majority view, but that’s democracy and I accept it.
“What shocked me the most was the failure of Montrose SNP councillor Sandy West to support my motion. Councillor West seems to be trying to face both directions at once on this issue.
“In both the October 6 and 13 editions of the Montrose Review, Councillor West is quoted as saying at a Ferryden public meeting that he felt the Glaxo planning application should be treated as a major planning application, that the determination meeting should be held in Montrose and that all four Montrose councillors should take part. His words, not mine.”
Councillor Salmond added: “My motion was shaped by Angus Council’s legal department and was deemed competent by the Head of Law and would have allowed everything Councillor West asked for back in October - but he failed to support me. Worse than that he spoke against my motion saying he felt there was no need to have the application heard in Montrose and that taking it to the normal development standards Committee was good enough for the Montrose people to have there say.”
We spoke to Councillor West who replied robustly to Councillor Salmond’s remarks.
He said that having indicated initially that it would be useful to have the application dealt with locally, he then wrote to chief executive Richard Stiff, seeking the precise legal position.
Mr Stiff replied that such applications are treated as major only if they have generating capacity exceeding 20 mega-watts. The GSK application is for six.
Councillor West added: “The chief executive also said that there is no appeal mechanism for a third party to challenge the classification.
“The present system was seen to work when speakers from Montrose attended a development control meeting at which the Sainsbury’s supermarket application was discussed. Council officers’ recommendation was for refusal, but so strong were representations by local people that planning convener Councillor David Lumgair proposed acceptance.”
He concluded by saying that Councillor Salmond’s motion was “a dog’s breakfast” that could lead to all sorts of applications having to be treated as ‘major’, possibly for trivial reasons.