Councillor Reacts to 'Death of Council' Comments from Leader

>> 11 June 2013

The SNP Shadow Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Rob Merson, has reacted to comments made by Council Leader Jim Gifford at the Tory Party Conference that councils are ‘dying’ under the weight of turbine planning applications.

“I was somewhat taken aback by Cllr Gifford’s remarks. While I can appreciate that Cllr. Gifford might have wished to indulge in a bit of grandstanding in front of his colleagues at the Conservative Conference, it is regrettable that he did not do so in terms more befitting his position as Council Leader.

“We have already experienced similar comments from the Chair of the Infrastructure Services Committee, Cllr Peter Argyle, who courted pre-election headlines by calling for a moratorium on wind turbines - which he should have known was a legal impossibility to impose. The current Vice Chair of ISC, Cllr Buchan, has also gone on record in his own controversial publication as being against wind turbine development.

“Maintaining objectivity in planning is critical to the transparency and integrity of the system, and making these ill-considered and outspoken remarks must call the impartiality of these councillors into question. What is required is sound planning policy – what we are getting is posturing to appease the vocal anti-turbine lobby, but a failure to take action to address those concerns which are valid.

“The Council Leader is well aware that it is for councils to interpret planning legislation and implement policy which will support the development of wind power on those sites which are considered appropriate - and yet successive Lib Dem/Tory or Tory/Lib Dem administrations in Aberdeenshire have failed to do that. There has been a great deal of gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands by this Administration, and the last, but why is it only at this late stage that Aberdeenshire Council is engaging with external consultants to formulate a robust and meaningful policy on cumulative impact?

“The reorganisation of Aberdeenshire Council’s Planning Service is something that is to be welcomed and was long overdue, but it is incredible that what has been hailed as a ‘rebirth’ of the service in Woodhill House should be announced as an ‘obituary’ at the Tory Conference - and by the Council Leader of all people!”

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