Too delicious!

Too sad.  Thanks

Trump Junior, like Bush Junior, got his job and his name from his dad. Life's been easy for them both, and victory always feels inevitable with a background like theirs.

Fuel poverty

With increasing fuel prices, we also see rising fuel poverty which is defined as needing to spend more than 10% income on fuel.  Now fuel prices regardless of source are set to continue to rise and the rate of rise is likely to be faster than any rise in income.

We have to move to having better insulated homes that require minimal heating.    Aberdeenshire has been given £170,000 to bring 20 houses up to the 2016 building standards. That works out at £8,500 a home.  That is a start but with over 100,000 houses in Aberdeenshire it is a drop in an ocean. We know what needs to be done - there is oodles of advice out there.

The problem is up front cost versus cost reduction later.  We need a scheme where homes can be upgraded and the reduction in fuel costs is shared between paying back the cost and providing benefit to the household.

There is a win win win available.
  • We can remove fuel poverty.
  • We can reduce CO2 emissions.
  • And we can have more comfortable homes.
When are we going to stop having "pilot" and "demonstrator" schemes and actually put in place something that will actually make an impact!

Menie dunes set for destruction

Today planning permission to stabilise the SSSI mobile sand dunes at Menie was granted.   There are a few details to be sorted out so Trump "Work will start tomorrow" is the usual bluster.  But once those details are cleared, this will be first step towards the destruction of the SSSI.  The designation is because of the geomorphology - the scientific interest is because this is a highly mobile sand dune system.  If the development does not proceed - and Trump now says he needs the houses of four of my constituents in order to do the development - then rewinding the works will be difficult.  The planning permission talks about 16 lorries a day and we still do not know the extent of the earthworks.

So visit the dunes now before works start. You will shortly not be able a to see the wild and beautiful place in its natural state.

Paul Johnston and I moved to defer the decision pending independent legal advice.  The Council's position seems to have changed over the last few days and we were told that they had taken independent advice.  But we do not know the details of that advice - nor whether, as for CPOs (see Sunday Times), Ann Faulds representing Trump had also been offering her advice.  Certainly Ms Faulds was there yesterday so it seems as if Trump were more worried about the legal position than the environmental impacts.

Legal threat to council for being 'in bed with Trump' over resort

Scotsman Article

"ABERDEENSHIRE Council is facing court action over claims that the authority is giving "favourable treatment" to Donald Trump in dealing with the tycoon's controversial plans for his £1 billion golf resort."

For Information: Correspondence between Dr Gore and myself.

Most recent first read from bottom to top.
To: Christine Gore/P&ES SMT/Abdnshire@Abdnshire, John Loveday/Councillors/Abdnshire@Abdnshire, Paul Johnston/Councillors/Abdnshire@Abdnshire, Allan Hendry/Councillors/Abdnshire@ABDNSHIRE, James Gifford/Councillors/Abdnshire@ABDNSHIRE, Isobel Davidson/Councillors/Abdnshire@ABDNSHIRE, Robert Merson/Councillors/Abdnshire@ABDNSHIRE, Alisan Norrie/Councillors/Abdnshire@Abdnshire, Gillian Owen/Councillors/Abdnshire@ABDNSHIRE, Anne Robertson/Councillors/Abdnshire@Abdnshire, Alexander Duncan/Councillors/Abdnshire@ABDNSHIRE
From: Debra Storr/Councillors/Abdnshire
Date: 26/10/2009 20:24
Subject: Re: Letter

Thanks Christine
I think it is useful to share this with my colleagues if only to document my attempts to resolve the issue privately

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Christine Gore
    Sent: 26/10/2009 18:03 GMT
    To: John Loveday; Paul Johnston; Allan Hendry; James Gifford; Isobel Davidson; Robert Merson; Debra Storr; Alisan Norrie; Gillian Owen; Anne Robertson; Alexander Duncan
    Subject: Re: Letter

Dear Councillors

I am aware that you have all received a copy of a letter addressed to me, from Frances McCartney, Solicitor.

The issues raised by Ms McCartney will be addressed at your meeting tomorrow by the relevant officers from Planning and Environmental Services and Corporate Services.

In the meantime some of you have asked to have sight of the correspondence between myself and Councillor Storr that is referred to in that letter.  Regrettably the content of my initial response to Councillor Storr was incorrect and there has been further correspondence as a result of that.  In the circumstances it seems appropriate to provide you with the entire correspondence which you will find below.

I trust this is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

Christine Gore
Director of Planning & Environmental Services
Aberdeenshire Council


Christine Gore/P&ES SMT/Abdnshire


Debra Storr/Councillors/Abdnshire@Abdnshire


26/10/2009 12:43


Re: Marram grass planting at Menie

Dear Councillor Storr,

Apologies, I was at the wrong end of the process.

The need for a pre-application consultation only applies to Major Applications submitted on or after 3 August.  The determination process for Major Applications applies to any such applications determined after 3 August, and provides that Major Applications which represent a significant departure from the development plan should be the subject of a pre-determination hearing and thereafter considered by full Council.  However, whilst this application is a departure, officers do not consider it to be a significant departure, which is why it appears on the agenda for Formartine Area Committee tomorrow.

I trust this clarification is helpful.


Christine Gore
Director of Planning & Environmental Services
Aberdeenshire Council


Debra Storr/Councillors/Abdnshire


Christine Gore/P&ES SMT/Abdnshire@Abdnshire


22/10/2009 08:03


Re: Marram grass planting at Menie

ChristineAre you quite sure of that?
Perhaps you will want to double check
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Christine Gore
    Sent: 21/10/2009 16:09 GDT
    To: Debra Storr
    Cc: Jane White; Raymond Reid; Keith Newton; Gordon Davidson; Sonya Galloway
    Subject: Re: Marram grass planting at Menie
Dear Councillor Storr,

This application was submitted prior to the new Regulations regarding, among other things, the planning hierarchy, coming into effect on 3 August.  It therefore falls to be considered under the previous legislation, to which the statutory major applications process does not apply.

I trust this clarification is helpful.

Yours sincerely,

Christine Gore
Director of Planning & Environmental Services
Aberdeenshire Council


Debra Storr/Councillors/Abdnshire


"Christine Gore" <>, "Raymond Reid" <>


"Jane White" <>


20/10/2009 22:08


Marram grass planting at Menie

Hi Christine and Raymond

I am rather surprised to find the above application on the agenda for Formartine next week

Thiis appears to be an application covering more than 2 ha and as no Masterplan has been agreed it is not covered by the outline planning application

Should it not therefore fall into the Major applications process?

Menie in legal "rough"

Aberdeenshire Council and the members of its Formartine Area Committee have today received a letter from a solictor from Environmental Law Centre, Scotland warning that making a decision about stablising the Menie dunes tomorrow could be subject to legal challenge.

The Committee Report into the application states this is a Major application and that it does not comply with the development plan.   I asked the Director of Planning last week whether it was appropriate for FAC to deal with this rather than treat it the same as other Major applicantions which would mean holding a pre-determination hearing and it being determined by Full Council.   

Dr Gore says the process is fine and is sticking to her guns .... is she right or wrong?

Aberdeenshire council ‘too close’ to Trump - Times Online

Aberdeenshire council ‘too close’ to Trump - Times Online

Aberdeenshire Council has some serious questions to answer about its relationship with Trump. We need full disclosure of all communications and an independent inquiry to ensure than the relationship is proper.


I've just signed up to 10:10 as an individual.  This campaign asks us to try to cut 10% from our CO2 emissions in 2010.   This is a challenge - I hope I have done most of the easy things so I need to focus on some actions that will be a little tougher.

But I like the 10 point checklist for 10:10 for individuals:

1. Fly less. holiday more
2. Save 10% on heating
3. Save 10% on electricity
4. Drive less
5. Eat better
6. Buy good stuff
7. Dump less
8. Don't waste food
9. .. or water
10. Feel happier

For details of the above, ideas on how to enjoy life and impact the earth less, please visit 10:10 UK

Gordon Park Shelter Progress - part 3

Ed Taylor of the Princes Foundation watching the stonework build at the shelter.

The appalling weather has delayed work a little.  Traditional lime mortar doesn't like torrents of rain but it is still hoped that the Shelter will be complete next week.

Do call past and say Hello to the master craftsmen and their trainees.


My sympathy to the family of Mr Sandy Henderson who died when the tractor he was driving was swept away in floods yesterday.  It was brave and caring of Mr Henderson to go to the aid of animals trapped by flood water.  The outcome is deeply sad.

Flood water can be very dangerous.  The photos of the Ythan today where the water is at a twenty-year high show just how easy it is to lose the border between river and land.  Please be careful at the water's edge as the flow is currently very rapid..

Right:  the Ythan engulfing the right bank below the footbridge at Gordon Park

Left: Above the Gordon Park footbridge

Right: looking north from the F&B Way Viaduct.

Gordon Park Shelter : Foundations and Wall

Just a quick progress report.  The guys tell me that the project is on schedule and the woodwork should appear next week.

Photos of the first steps of the woodwork are posted below.

3 tonnes CO2 extra per head in Aberdeenshire

Recent figures published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change reveal that Aberdeenshire’s carbon emissions to be 10.8 tonnes per head.  This is the third worst in mainland Scotland with only East Lothian and Falkirk being worse.  If we take out the industrial & commercial elements, then Aberdeenshire is worst.

Aberdeenshire led the way in producing a Sustainability Charter but this seems to be merely a piece of paper full of good intentions rather than a document that has led to real action.

A few weeks ago it emerged that Aberdeenshire was failing to meet its own targets in reducing business travel by over half a million miles per year.  On a wider set of figures showing where Aberdeenshire was
also missing its climate change and sustainability targets, I challenged Aberdeenshire’s performance at Infrastructure Services last week but Chair Peter Argyle dismissed my concerns saying it was all in hand.  It clearly is not.

Across Aberdeenshire CO2 emissions from 2005 to 2007 showed no change for either domestic consumption or road transport and a small drop for the commercial and industrial sector.  But it is worrying that Aberdeenshire is seeing land use changes including deforestation, changes to farm practises and conversion of farmland to settlements that equated to 1.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions per head in 2007, an increase on the 2005 and 2006 figures.”

This clearly can not be sustained.  The next local plan will need to be much more robust about ensuring that we stop eating into valuable farmland and reduce the need to travel.  NESTRANS will need to refocus
its priorities on public transport improvements, the shift towards walking and cycling and forget about unaffordable road schemes.

It is only a small gesture - but if you are concerned, join in Earth Hour tomorrow, 16th October.  Switch all your lights off for just one hour - 7pm to 8pm.  

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2009 Climate Change

Planning alerts shut down

The planning alert website advertised on thsi site has been shut down and the following message appears is currently experiencing technical difficulties because of ongoing legal action by Royal Mail.
Our provider of postcode data,, has been taken offline because of legal action. Until we find an alternative source, will be unable to send out any email alerts, or publish data via it's API. We apologise for the inconvenience. For more information, visit the Ernest Marples Blog
Now the Alerts were not working for Aberdeenshire anyway - a problem I raised with Raymond Reid, Aberdeenshire's head of planning some weeks ago.

With council's such as Aberdeenshire now limiting the acceptance of public representations to a mere 21 days, such alerts are important.  We are not all sad enough to visit Council websites to inspect list of newly submitted applications weekly.   But you currently have no alternative but to look at e.g. and look at the list of applications published weekly.

Please write to your MP asking them to sign Early Day Motion (number EDM 2000) and protest at the actions of The Royal Mail.   You can write to your MP here:

Over 1,250 people have so far signed a petition on the Prime Minister's website, please add your name:

And finally do blog and/or write to your local paper.


Why I am joining the Scottish Greens

I have been thinking about joining the Scottish Green's for a while now. 

Patrick Harvie and Robin Harper have been among the few MSPs that have been clear about supporting the human rights of the residents at Menie. Contrast this with the disgraceful silence from the north-east political establishment and the shameful refusal to offer my constituents any comfort supported by the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and SNP alike at the recent meeting of Aberdeenshire Council.

It is clear to me that our current crop of politicians in Aberdeenshire are not up to the job. We need people who have the courage to stand up for what is right to lead us. The time has for a new direction. I want to see Aberdeenshire's credibility and reputation restored - which means replacing those in charge at the next election.

I am joining my friend and colleague, Cllr Martin Ford, in the Scottish Green Party because, like him, I want to work for the restoration of public trust in politics. That means being honest with people about difficult issues like climate change. None of the four main parties is doing that.

In my experience, the public respect and trust politicians who stick to their principles and tell the truth, however hard that is. I see that approach in the Green Party. I certainly don't see it anywhere else in north-east politics.

I urge others disgusted at the failure of political leadership amongst current elected representatives in the north-east to join me in the Scottish Green Party as a first step to giving the north-east a better set of representatives for the future.

Gude Cause March

A wonderful day - the friendliest march I have ever been part of - it's not often people step of the pavements and join it.

A selection of images ....

A beautiful banner from the Scottish Society of Women Artists

Needs no caption!

Wonderfully constructed banner from Edinburgh City Museums

Quite a lot of young people involved including a well organised group petitioning for Votes at 16.

African Women forming an alliance with a piper.

Three friends and I enjoying wearing our sashes.

Scottish Women's Aid had a strong contingent.

Many dressed to commemorate the 1909 march

Several bands with a variety of costumes made it a pleasure to march.

Many thanks to the organisers for all their hard work and congratulations for making is such a huge success.

Gordon Park Shelter - first steps

On Friday I was in Edinburgh and took the opportunity to join Ed Taylor of the Princes Foundation on a visit to the carpenters who are working on the new shelter for Gordon Park, Ellon.

The shelter is a gift to the town from the Princes Foundation with much of the work being done by the trainees who will be working in wood, stone and slate as the shelter is built.

The photos may give you some idea of the scale of the work.  The two master craftsmen, Jack MacGregor and Luke Mallet of Alba Green Oak Frames, are busy passing onto six apprentices some of the art of their craft.

The octagonal shelter involves some interesting angles!  

The guys will be one site next week so do call part to say hello.

How Menie masterplans?

I've written to the architects in charge of the masterplanning exercise at Menie asking whether they will be preparing one masterplan or two.

Last week, Aberdeenshire Council failed to rule out the use of compulsory purchase orders for five properties at Menie leaving uncertainty for both residents and the Trump Organisation.

But with the residents determined not to sell willingly and all indications still being that councillors believe that using compulsory purchase powers for private profit would be wrong, Gareth Hoskins Associates now have a problem.  Will the realistic boundaries be the original boundaries or can they can include the disputed lands belonging to my constituents?  Or should he simply prepare two?

A masterplan was a key requirement of the planning permission granted by Scottish Ministers and the intent was for a masterplan to be agreed before detailed planning permissions can be lodged and any development can start.  But until the threat of CPOs is wthdrawn completely, no-one can know where the bounds of the masterplan should be.  If my constituents properties are included in the masterplan, it may never be deliverable and the Trump Organisations noise about starting in November may simply be more Trump noise - they don't usually stick to any timetable they advertise.

Note: the only current application at Menie is APP/2009/2479 Marram Grass Planting, Preparatory Earthworks and Chestnut Pale Fencing on the Inner Dunes at Menie Links
which as chestnut pale fencing has been erected is part retrospective.

Thanks to Dan Phillips for permission to use the photo

Earth Hour: 16th December 7pm to 8pm

Last year I posted on Earth Hour an in the run up to the Copenhagen summit on Climate Change, I hope that more and more will join in.  As well as individuals and public authorities, many high profile businesses are now getting involved.

It's easy - just turn off your lights for an hour on 16 December at 19.00.

Not much to ask - but a way to send a message that we want the carbon reductions needed to be enforced internationally.  And a clear statement from the developed world that we understand we need to reduce our emissions hugely.

A dismal day

The Council decided not to decide.

CPOs seem not be be in favour.  But our moves to have them ruled out failed. 

On a positive note, we have 15,000 people against CPOs of which over 10,000 are AB postcodes. 
We also have a lovely bunch of people of all ages and backgrounds willing to come out and even sit (unnecessarily) through some dull Council business before behaving as well as could be expected in the face of today's events.

The battle must continue.  I could not live with myself if I abandoned the families and landowners at Menie to the not so tender mercies of Trump.

So for news of the campaign.  And for the next tranche of signatures.  My colleages need to understand where the public stands on this and that is clear - no CPOs for private profit.

The Motion from Cllr Martin Ford (seconded by me) was
"Aberdeenshire Council will not use compulsory purchase powers to force Aberdeenshire residents from their own homes on or adjacent to the Menie Estate"

The Amendment from Cllr Kitts-Hayes was

"As a general  principle, Aberdeenshire Council will only consider through due process compulsory purchase orders which are for the benefit of the general public interest.

Aberdeenshire Council appreciates the uncertainty and concerns which are being felt over the use of compulsory purchase powers but will  take no action on this particular notice of motion as it would be inappropriate to make a decision without a detailed report being available for full and proper consideration."

For Martin's motion: Cllrs, Sam Coull, Mark Cullen, Martin Ford, Paul Johnston, Jack Mair, Debra Storr (Local Councillor to Menie Residents)
No Vote: Cllrs Graeme Clark, Linda Clark, Isobel Davidson (Local to Menie Residents), Ian Tait
Not present: Cllrs Alan Buchan, Sydney Mair
Not voting (conflicted) Cllr Wendy Agnew
The remaining 55 voted for the Amendment.

The 55 are (Provost), (Deputy Provost and Tory Leader),,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,, (Local Councillor to Menie Residents),,,, (Local Councillor to Menie Residents),,, (Council Leader and Leader of LibDems),,,,, (Leader of SNP),,,,,,,,,

Update Monday
: Apologies to Cllr Gillian Owen. I had her incorrectly listed as Non Voting. And at her request I now set the record straight. She voted against Martin's motion and for the "No Action" amendment.