Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur today quizzed the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning Kevin Stewart MSP on how the views of local communities is taken into account by Ministers when considering planning appeals.
The exchange at Question Time in the Chamber this afternoon came on the back of confirmation by Hoolan Energy that it is to appeal the decision by Orkney Islands Council to refuse planning permission for two wind farm projects at Hesta Head and Costa Head.
During the exchange, Mr McArthur sought assurances from the Minister that objectors will be able to make their case to the Government and that the voice of local communities would not be “simply over-ridden” in this process.
In response, the Minister said he could not comment on a specific appeal on which Ministers may be required to take a decision in due course. He added, however, that a Reporter had been appointed for both appeals and that all local objections received by the planning authority would be forwarded to the Reporter in order for them to be “fully taken into account” in the final decision.
Speaking after the exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“This is an issue that has given rise to considerable concern locally. The Council, in coming to its decision to reject these applications last month, reflected on the potential impact on landscape, habitats, wildlife and amenity.
“Hoolan Energy has now appealed that decision as it is perfectly entitled to do. Many constituents, however, are understandably anxious to know how the views of the local community will be factored into that appeal process.
“According to Mr Stewart, these views will be ‘fully taken into account’ by the Reporter who has been appointed to consider this appeal. That will certainly be important in order to maintain public confidence in the process”.
Notes to editors: you can view the exchange here