The controversy surrounding GlaxoSmithKilne’s (GSK) plans to install two turbines at its Montrose factory has taken a fresh twist.
The pharmaceutical giant has now lodged an appeal against Angus Council’s refusal of the 132m (426ft) turbines on the grounds of noise and visual impact on the townscape.
It has emerged that GSK’s appeal statement to the Scottish Government includes a proposal to reduce the two turbines to just 110m in a bid to get the application rubber-stamped.
However, Scottish Government reporter Malcolm Mahony has thrown out the amendment after making it clear that 110m turbines would amount to a materially different proposal.
That means the original application, which was rejected by Angus councillors in a vote last August, must now be considered as it stands by the reporter.
A GSK spokesman told The Courier: “The original planning application proposed turbines of between 132 metres maximum height and 116 metres minimum and GSK would like the appeal to proceed on this basis.
“An option of 110 metres might have provided room for further discretion at appeal but, if it is ruled that a new planning application would be necessary, then GSK would want the original application to be considered by the reporter.”
If the appeal is refused GSK would find itself back at square one, having to decide whether or not to go through the whole planning process again with the 110m alternative.
Again there is no guarantee it would be approved if they did.
In a letter to GSK leaked to The Courier, planning and environmental appeals case officer Christine Brown said: “Mr Mahony has read the appeal statement for your client and notes that you propose that consideration should be given to the option of erecting two turbines of 110 metres height to blade tip.
“That is on the basis that the application was for turbines of up to 132 metres height and could therefore encompass lesser dimensions.
“You have submitted visualisations of 110-metre-high turbines from three viewpoints as documents to the appeal.
“Angus Council maintain that this represents a materially different proposal and is unacceptable; you have responded.
“The post-2008 planning system looks to move away from the old system where it was possible for amendments to a proposal to be introduced at any stage of the application and appeal process unless it changed the character of the proposal so as to amount, in effect, to a different proposal.
“It is now expected that the scheme will remain in the form which was considered by the planning authority.
“Consequently, section 32A of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, as amended, prohibits an application from being varied after an appeal has been made.
“Circular 6/2009, paragraph 12, explains that the appeal process should focus on the proposal that was considered by the planning authority.
“The visualisations of 110-metre-high turbines were not submitted until appeal stage, and therefore represent information not available to the council during their consideration of the application. It is likely that: the visual impact of the 110-metre proposal would be different in relation to the skyline, Montrose Parish Church and nearby houses; and the zone of visual impact would be different.”
She said the council, the consultees and third parties have not had the opportunity to consider these matters properly, nor would the reporter have sufficient information to fully assess the 110m option.
“For consideration to be given to smaller turbines a fresh planning application would be required,” Ms Brown added.
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