Next Local Plan

Today Aberdeenshire Council approved a Main Issues Report as the next step towards the next Local Plan.

Response to this consultation are critical to the formation of the new Local Plan - and that will shape development in Aberdeenshire for the next decade.

Unfortunately, there are some fundamental issues in the report that are unresolved. For example in the Ellon-Blackdog Strategic Growth Area, the Structure Plan says there should be 800 houses built 2007-2016 and 1500 2017-2023. Now do those number include or exclude the 650 houses granted outline planning permission in relation tot he Menie estate development. It's not clear.

And if, as rumoured given the squeeze on government finances, the WPR is cancelled/delayed, the the Bridge of Don-Peterhead SGA feasible?

However, do not let these uncertainties put you off from commenting. You have from now until 6th July to respond. The Main Issues Report we discussed today had 7 pages of errata and there is also a Monitoring Report and Environmental Report that are to be published to support the consultation. However you can see the information published thus far at

If I can help you to understand the report or the process, please do get in touch.

Scenic or Not?

I love the new Scenic or Not website where we get to rate pictures taken from all over the UK.

It's fun ... but I do hope we can use such tools to help understand what we value in our environment. We clearly do make distinctions between views ... just what is the difference between a view with and without electric pylons, wind-turbines, road signs, houses ....

Do have a go ...

Structure Plan

I've sent off three objections to the Structure Plan. Deadline is 24th April so if you were intending to object, then DO IT NOW.

In the current - and future - environment, the total number of houses needs to be scaled back to reality else orderly planning will be meaningless. The last minutes addition of 600 houses to the allocation for the Blackdog to Ellon bit of the Strategic Growth Corridor was without consultation or rationale.

Public transport provision on the Aberdeen-Peterhead corridor needs to be ramped up. The other Strategic Growth corridors have rail available and existing dual carriageway roads within the Aberdeen Housing Market Area. This corridor has nothing and no suggestion that anything is forthcoming as part of the plans.

Community Infrastructure needs to lead development - too much has already been built without the investment in health, education, leisure and other community facilities. And we need parallel development to provide jobs to avoid the further development of commnter towns and the stress this places on local shops, etc.

Electric Cars

Oh Dear.

£250m to boost use of electric cars is sold as a great environmental initiative.

But the electricity needs to be generated from somewhere ... and in the course of generation, and transmission, there are gigantic losses. So we need to generate even more electricity than would have been needed to run the same cars on petrol or diesel in the first place.

Now I also don't know how I'd manage without my car - but most of my jouney's could be cut out if the public transport to my village were better. With just 6% of journeys by public transport the scope for growth here is enormous - imagine what a difference doubling the frequency of service in your area would make. Imagine if that 6% were 12% and the impact of taking all those cars off the road for those journeys.

Standards of Trump

I was told by a reporter that the Trump Organisation has reported me to the Standards Commission for over-stepping my duties as councillor regarding public access at Menie (see earlier article). As I was simply responding to constituent complaints and inspecting a situation myself, I am totally confident that the Standards Commission will dismiss the compliant.

The more interesting question is what the police will do regarding my complaint to the police about being unlawfully detained by the Menie Estate security guards.

It is worth recording here that the gates around the estate are now unlocked. I have been advised of this by residents and by Aberdeenshire Council's Access Officer. I hope the Menie Estate now understand the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and we will have no more nonsense of locked gates.

Spey Kayak Marathon

Lovely day outdoors taking part in the Spey Marathon - the first of three in the Highland Series. A good turnout and we collectively worked round the problem of a locked gate at Delnapot giving us a 250m portage to the water from the public road. Beautiful sunny day and a good crowd with a wide age range of paddlers (over 50 years of range).

Gordon and I were pleased to win the double sea kayak category.

Depression - Challenge from Age Concern

I took Age Concern's quiz about spotting depression in older people. Interesting - have go.