Agendas, reports and minutes

Highland Council

Date: Monday, 25 March 2019

Minutes: Read the Minutes

Minutes of Special Meeting of the Highland Council held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Monday, 25 March 2019 at 2.00 pm.

1. Calling of the Roll and Apologies for Absence
A’ Gairm a’ Chlàir agus Leisgeulan

Mr G Adam, Mr R Balfour, Mrs J Barclay, Mr B Boyd, Mr R Bremner (v/c), Mrs C Caddick, Mrs I Campbell, Miss J Campbell, Mr A Christie, Mr G Cruickshank, Mr M Finlayson , Mr C Fraser , Mr R Gale (v/c), Mr A Graham, Mr J Gray, Mrs P Hadley, Mr T Heggie, Mr A Henderson, Mr A Jarvie, Mr B Lobban, Mr D Louden, Mrs L MacDonald, Mr W MacKay (v/c), Ms A MacLean, Mr C MacLeod, Mr D MacLeod, Mr D Macpherson, Mr R MacWilliam, Mrs B McAllister, Mr I Ramon (excluding item 3), Mr D Rixson , Mr A Sinclair (v/c), Mr C Smith, and Mr B Thompson. 

In Attendance:
Area Planning Manager – South Team Leader
Principal Solicitor (Clerk)
Administrative Assistant, Committee Services

Mr B Lobban in the Chair

Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Mr A Baxter, Mr J Bruce, Mrs M Cockburn, Mrs M Davidson, Mr J Finlayson, Mr K Gowans, Ms E Knox, Mr A MacInnes, Mrs D Mackay, Mr G MacKenzie, Mr A Mackinnon, Mr J McGillivray, Mr H Morrison, Ms L Munro, Mrs M Paterson, Mr M Reiss, Mrs F Robertson, Mrs T Robertson, Mr G Ross, Ms N Sinclair and Ms M Smith.

2. Declarations of Interest
Foillseachaidhean Com-pàirt

There were no declarations of interest.

The Chair reminded Members that, in order to take part in item 3, they required to be present for the whole of the item.

3. Notice of Amendment (Planning) – Planning Application (18/03110/FUL)
Brath Atharrachaidh (Dealbhadh) – Iarrtas Dealbhaidh (18/03110/FUL)

Application for Construction of a 950 kW run of river hydro scheme, including intake, buried pipeline, turbine house, outfall, grid connection and access tracks on land 2400 M NW of Ardechive Cottage, Achnacarry, Spean Bridge (Allt Mhuic) (18/03110/FUL)

At its meeting on 12 March 2019, the South Planning Applications Committee (SPAC) refused planning permission for the above application.  The following Notice of Amendment was then received on 14 March 2019:

“We the undersigned, being Elected Members of the Highland Council, hereby declare our wish that the decision of the South Planning Applications Committee at its meeting on 12 March 2019 on the above application (Agenda Item 6.2) be reviewed at the next available meeting of the full Council.

Signed: Mr B Thompson, Mrs C Caddick, Mr D MacLeod, Mrs T Robertson, Mr B Boyd, Mr A Henderson, Mr R MacWilliam, Mr L Fraser, Ms A MacLean, Mr G Adam, Mr R MacDonald, Mr J Gray, Mrs D Mackay, Mrs B McAllister, Mr T Heggie, Mr G Cruickshank, Ms E Knox and Mr D Louden.”

In this context, there had been circulated Report No PLS/023/19 by the Area Planning Manger – South containing the case officer’s assessment of the planning application.  A further document relating to the Impact on Wild Land, a summary of the interactions during the design and scheme changes, was circulated and Members were given time to read the document.  

During presentation of the report and recommendation, it was stated that condition 2 of the recommendation had been amended to further reduce the width of the access track to a 1.5 m all-terrain vehicle track post-construction.  

In response to questions, clarification was provided on the following:-

  • The Forestry Officer had withdrawn his objections following a further report which had ingathered the tree information, similarly the reduction in the width of the track would necessitate the removal of fewer trees. 
  • In relation to the 15 m construction corridor, the width required for the excavator was 3 m and as far as possible the trees would be avoided within the 15 m corridor.
  • Following discussion between the Forestry Officer and the developers Forestry Consultant a tree lopped by 50% was likely to survive and was considered preferable to removal of the entire tree. 
  • The tree survey had given the worst case scenario in terms of tree losses.  There was a strict condition and an arboriculturalist would be on site at all times to mitigate the loss of trees.
  • The application had to be assessed on what had been presented and a careful balance had to be sought whereby applications met the policies for support of green and renewable energy and the policies for seeking to protect trees.  The developer had looked at various other routes, however it was found that these would have further undesirable impacts.
  • Health and Safety requirements were for the developer to meet.
  • Geotex material would be used to assist with the revegetation process.
  • The overall extent of the Kinlochhourn – Knoydart – Morar wild land area is over 1,000 sq km.
  • The site supervision on this site would be similar to the site supervision for the Glen Etive schemes, with a further layer of supervision likely by the Forestry Commission who owned part of the site.
  • The head height would be approximately 200 m.
  • The Cia-Aig micro hydro scheme had been consented in 2004/5, this was one of the earlier schemes that had taken a while to implement and was therefore a newer construction with some weathering and tree planting to come into effect.  The Planning Service had an agreement with the applicant for the Allt Dubh scheme to look at further track reduction in that area and improved areas of drainage so the Allt Dubh scheme was still ongoing.

During discussion, Members’ comments included the following:-

  • Finding a balance between protecting wild land and encouraging renewable developmentis difficult.  The proposed Corie Glas hydro scheme  is a massive development and is in close proximity to this much smaller development.  Recent studies suggest that fossil fuel pollution is as deadly as smoking, and renewables have therefore to be encouraged.  It is vital that the burning of fossil fuels is discouraged.  For every megawatt of hydro electricity produced the impact on climate change through the burning of fossil fuels would be reduced.    
  • The Community was divided on this development.  The habitat survey had been undertaken in November, there would be few species to survey at that time of year.  There had also been no survey on the key species of butterfly.  There was therefore no confidence in the impact appraisals undertaken.  As part of the restoration work, areas were to have compensatory tree planting, this would not be in the butterflies favour, as the cattle grazing would not be allowed and this specifically helped the butterflies. The Report stated no features of historic interest in the construction area, this was unlikely as the land was on the boundary of two farms likely dating back to medieval times.  There had been creel huts and these were likely to be in this area by the loch.  This development would also encroach on the wild land area.
  • This development would leave a permanent mark on the landscape.  The area is served with a fragile road infrastructure that would be unlikely to receive any investment.  The objectors are due a greater weighting as they are local and with great knowledge of vegetation habitats.  This scheme would be more closely regulated than the previous two schemes.  
  • Scottish Natural Heritage is responsible for the wild land designation and has not objected as the proposed development is would have no significant impact on the wild land area.  
  • More advantageous grant schemes would come for renewable energy.

No consensus having been reached by the Members, Mr D Rixson, seconded by Mr A Jarvie, then moved that the application be refused on the grounds that:

  • The proposed development is contrary to paragraph 200 of Scottish Planning Policy and Policy 57 of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan as it will have an unacceptable impact on the wild land characteristics displayed in wild land area 18, which is an area very sensitive to any form of intrusive human activity and has no capacity to accept this development; in particular, it would erode the sense of remoteness within the wild land area by extending built development and thereby affecting the sense of prospect towards distant, rugged mountains and sanctuary within the glen thereby challenging the integrity of wild land qualities.
  • It is also contrary to paragraph 215 of Scottish Planning Policy as the applicant has not demonstrated that any significant effects on the qualities of the area can be overcome by siting, design or other mitigation.
  • Refusal on the basis that the proposed development is contrary to HWLDP polices 51, 52, 57 and SPP policy 215. By means of irreversible damage to the ancient woodland area by loss of trees which cannot be adequately mitigated. 
  • The proposed development will have a significant impact to the butterfly habitat contrary to policy 60 of the HWLDP.

Mr B Thompson, seconded by Mr A Henderson, moved as an amendment that the application be granted subject to the conditions recommended in the report with the amendment to condition 2 to further reduce the width of the access track to a 1.5 m all-terrain vehicle track post-construction.

On a vote being taken, 12 votes were cast in favour of the motion and 20 votes in favour of the amendment, with no abstentions as follows:-

For the Motion:
Miss J Campbell, Mr M Finlayson, Mr C Fraser, Mr R Gale, Ms P Hadley, Mr A Jarvie, Mr B Lobban, Mr D Louden, Mr W MacKay, Mr C MacLeod, Mr D Rixson and Mr C Smith.

For the Amendment:
Mr G Adam, Mr R Balfour, Mrs J Barclay, Mr B Boyd, Mr R Bremner, Mrs C Caddick, Mrs I Campbell, Mr A Christie, Mr G Cruickshank, Mr A Graham, Mr J Gray, Mr T Heggie, Mr A Henderson, Mrs A MacLean, Mr D MacLeod, Mr D Macpherson, Mr R MacWilliam, Mrs B McAllister, Mr A Sinclair and Mr B Thompson.


The Council AGREED to GRANT planning permission in accordance with the recommendation set out in section 11 of the 12 March 2019 South Planning Applications Committee report with the amendment to condition 2 to further reduce the width of the access track to a 1.5 m all-terrain vehicle track post-construction.

4. Recruitment Process for Depute Chief Executive 
There had been circulated Report No HC/13/19 dated 21 March 2019 by the Chief Executive. 


Following discussion, the Council AGREED:- 

  • the Appointments Panel and Recruitment Process as detailed in Section 1 of the report; 
  • that administrative issues related to the recruitment should be approved by the Appointments Panel; 
  • that External Advisers should be used in accordance with Section 4.1 and the extent of involvement should be approved by the Appointments Panel and not exceed £15k; and;
  • that the salary should be a single point of £119k. 

The meeting ended at 4.10 pm.