[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


News Home

Subscribe to RSS feed

Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

Cranston cleared of wind farm collusion  

Credit:  Hawick News | 17 November 2013 | www.hawick-news.co.uk ~~

A Hawick councillor has been cleared by a watchdog of colluding with SNP colleagues on Scottish Borders Council’s planning committee before giving the green light to two controversial wind farm developments in Berwickshire.

Alastair Cranston (SNP, Hawick and Denholm) was one of six members of that committee who stood accused of breaching the councillors’ code of conduct.

But Stuart Allan, Standards Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, has concluded after an investigation that the councillors have no case to answer.

The probe focused on complaints against Mr Cranston and four fellow SNP councillors – Stuart Bell, Donald Moffat, Jim Brown and Joan Campbell – along with Lib Dem member Vicky Davidson.

It was launched shortly after the 13-strong committee voted in April this year to approve an application for 14 giant turbines, each 126 metres high, at Quixwood farm, near Grantshouse.

Conservative Simon Mountford, supported by his party colleague Jim Fullarton, moved that the application be refused, while Ms Davidson, seconded by Mr Cranston, moved for approval. The vote was locked at 5-5 before Mr Brown, standing in for committee chairman Ron Smith, used his casting vote to support the development.

The complainant, who has not been named but is understood to oppose further wind farms in Berwickshire, also cited a planning decision in August 2012, when the committee voted 8-4 to approve a three-turbine project near Cockburnspath.

On that occasion, former Borders Party councillor Nick Watson, seconded by Tory Michelle Ballantyne, moved to reject the proposal, while Mr Moffat, seconded by Mrs Campbell, moved to approve.

The complainant alleged that, rather than giving independent opinions based on solid planning grounds, the six councillors “appeared to be using spurious and irrelevant arguments, making statements unrelated to proper planning guidelines and working in concert to pervert the decision-making process”.

Although there was no explicit reference to the SNP Government’s ambitious renewable energy targets, the complainant claimed both decisions were “influenced by party political considerations”.

In his determination, Mr Allan states: “As regards the central allegations of political collusion and predetermination…despite extensive inquiries involving the complainers, witnesses suggested by them, the six respondents and senior officers of the council, there was simply no evidence to support these claims.

“Each respondent described how they approached the consideration of planning applications and their differing accounts…lend credibility to an absence of group – political or otherwise – involvement.

“Neither were there patterns of voting which suggested collusion…nor did the criticisms of individual members amount to contravention of the councillors’ code of conduct.”

Responding to the watchdog’s decision, Councillor Bell told the Hawick News: “We were accused of conspiring together to pre-determine the outcome of specific planning applications and we all considered this a very serious accusation.

“I think we were all disappointed the complainant chose not to accept the findings of an internal investigation by the chief executive [Tracey Logan] and senior law officer [Ian Wilkie] of SBC which exonerated us.

“And we were dismayed that, without presenting a shred of substantial evidence, the complainant appealed to the Standards Commission. I am very pleased we have now been fully exonerated following a very thorough investigation process.

“However, the experience of a process which has dragged on for six months has left me and my colleagues feeling disillusioned because we were put under this strain on the flimsiest of evidence.

“I remain deeply concerned at the illegitimate pressure such an unsubstantiated complaint puts on elected representatives.

“Undermining the democracy of the council’s decision-making would leave all Borderers worse off.”

Source:  Hawick News | 17 November 2013 | www.hawick-news.co.uk

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

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate


News Watch Home

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook


© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.