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'Planning decisions hinge on what we have for breakfast'  

A councillor has been investigated over claims he said crucial decisions hinged on what he had for breakfast.

A windfarm action group filed an official complaint against Aberdeenshire member Paul Johnston.

But Mr Johnston said his critics had got “the wrong end of the stick” when he was pointing out that councillors were only “human”.

The complaint was made by Mervyn Newberry, chairman of the Skelmonae Windfarm Action Group, which is opposed to four turbines near Methlick.

It was made following a surgery held by Mr Johnston with the Barthol Chapel Action Group, which opposes another development.

In his complaint to the council, Mr Newberry, pictured inset, raised concerns about the planning process.

He said Mr Johnston had stated that councillors “didn’t have time to read all the evidence” presented to them.

He added: “When asked what does he base his decision-making on, his shocking reply was: ‘Who knows? Our decision might be influenced by what we had for breakfast’.

We would hope that decisions made that affect our lives and well-being are made on more solid influences than the dietary variations of any given day.”

But Mr Johnston said: “If I said anything even vaguely close to that, it would not be like the way Mr Newberry is portraying it.

“You can’t guarantee that a councillor reads absolutely everything.

“I’m sure everybody in Formartine reads as much as they physically can, and that they take every decision properly and with due judgment.

“Councillors, I’m afraid, are human and there are going to be lots of things that will influence decisions, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

“But every councillor should take decisions based on factual evidence that is put in front of them.”

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: “The matter was referred to our monitoring officer for investigation.

“And he concluded that no further action by Aberdeenshire Council was required.

“This is to be relayed to the complainant by letter.”

Evening Express

7 February 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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