Main Issues : Development in Countryside, Energy, Minerals, Coastal development, Green belt

Again, I try to summarise the policy proposals and give my comments on these.  Your feedback, especially before 20th January, would be appreciated.

Development in Countryside: divides Aberdeenshire into 3 : Accessible (around Aberdeen and the A90 and A96 corridors), Regeneration priority (Peterhead-Fraserburgh and the Moray coast) and Rural (everything else).  In Accessible, small scale developments suitable for Green Belt will be allowed plus refurbishment/replacement of existing.  For Rural, add economic development proposals, max 3 houses close to edge of existing settlements, or single house for retirement succession of viable farm holding.  (Rural includes Regeneration).
Wind Energy: technical rules re roads/railways, flights, TV reception, ice throw shadow flicker, noise, visual intrusion.  Impacts on Core Paths and Cumulative Impact.  Reference to existing Supplementary Planning Guidance.
Other renewable energy:   sympathetic if well sited and designed.
Minerals: Reference to maps indicting area of search (not published in these documents - I will ask for copy), sand and gravel - 15 years supply maximum, cumulative impact considered if 3 more more consents for landfill for mineral extraction within 5km of a settlement, explicit reference to buffer zones etc.

Coastal Development: similar to existing policy - limited to developments requiring coastal location and where social and economic benefits outweigh adverse environmental impacts and no alternative site. List of other hurdles - coalescence of settlements, character and amenity, flooding, water quality, coastal processes or habitats.  I make no comment!

Green Belt: extensions to existing; agri/forestry/horiticulture/nature conservation; recreation use compatible with countryside; sensitive restoration; worker in primary industry rerquired on-site; National Priority; Safeguarded resources in Areas of search (see Minerals above).  Comment that development in Green Belt may reduced travel compared to development beyond.

The 3 houses on edge of rural settlements seems a pragmatic way to allow organic growth - but it will be interesting to see what happens with the maximum 20% in any 5 year period limit.    It seems odd to allow retiring farmers in Rural but not in Accessible - the social factors are similar.   I'll need to see the maps for Minerals areas of search.   Coastal and Green Belt - very similar to existing.  However, we were also expecting a review of the Green Belt maps in this local plan and as a result of the AWPR.  We need this.

Local Plan: Main Issues: Employment, Offices, Homeworking, Tourism, Town Centres and Retailing

See below for details of the process and please get back to me with comments by say 20th January - else your concerns may not be raised.  I'll just post here very quick summaries and my comments - do see the original documents for the full version.

Employment land - existing employment land protected for employment purposes (rather than silence in current local plan)
Office development - new specific policy allowing in employment land, existing derelict, despoiled or underused, with encouragement for accessible by public transport, cycling or walking, and a sequential test.
Homeworking - new policy saying it's OK so long as it doesn't interfere with the neighbourhood.
Tourist facilities - new specific policy encouraging if well related to existing settlements or there is a locational requirement.  Resistance to converting tourist accommodation to other uses.
Town Centres and Retailing - retains (but does not strengthen) sequential approach to new retail.  Specifies some sites for bulky comparison outlets.  In Rural HMA allows new retail to support tourism.
Retail in Countryside - new policy allowing farm shops or ancillary to tourist or recreational use.

I'm generally supportive of the direction of this.  I want to encourage more employment in Aberdeenshire and recognise that the fastest growth and maximum employment is usually from small enterprises growing.

I have some concerns that there may be a few loopholes opened.  I find the identification of specific sites for bulky retail odd - the onus should be on the developer to find a site and make the case.  I am wary of the rules for converting tourist accommodation to residential use - it's the weasel word "reasonable".  And "the erection of a farm shop in the countryside does not require planning permission" seems a step too far to me.

The cost of destruction

If the Menie development didn't after all go ahead, there is a bond to pay for the restoration of the dunes.  So how much do you think it will cost to undo the marram grass planting, remove fencing, remove hessian sheet and fences and let the dunes revert to their natural dynamic state?

I have a copy of the legal agreement between Aberdeenshire Council and Trump so I know the answer.  But I'll let you guess for a day or two ....

A prize of some tablet for the nearest guess - and we will do this to the nearest pound.  Think of it as an Xmas quiz!

The restoration bind is for the princely sum of £157,752 so congratulations to Sue Edwards who guessed £2,000.  I owe you some tablet. 

Merry Xmas

Best Wishes for the Festive Period.

Next Local Plan

Today an inch of council papers arrived by post.  These documents are for me to look at part of the Main Issues for the next Local Plan.  My colleagues and I will discuss the policy issues on 27th January and our conclusions will help shape the development of Aberdeenshire for the next 10 years.  So we have a few short weeks to digest the contents of the Main Issues report and to look at the responses made to the report.  And then decide how policy should change.  I have a summary of comments made but there is also a searchable database to see the full richness of comments.

At our meeting on 27th January, we will only discuss the contentious areas so I need to read the report carefully over the next two weeks and highlight areas that worry me.  If you want to flag your concerns to me also - or indeed tell me that you think that any particular policy has got it spot on - do let me know.  I'll probably post more here as I digest the "heap".

There will be a further set of paper relating to settlements so I'd ask you to hang fire on comments about our towns and villages for now if possible.


The Scottish Government has announced that the AWPR is to go ahead but that the Aberdeen Crossrail project will not proceed.  All this just a few days after the close of Copenhagen at which Alex Salmond trumpted the Scottish Government commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

I have always been a skeptic re the AWPR: the major problem with Aberdeen is peak hours commuter congestion.  And public transport and better planning could deal with these without building a dual carriageway around the city.

I will be fascinated to see hear any arguments detailing how this road will reduce CO2 emissions - and please don't just say that congested traffic is inefficient: high speeds are inefficient too and journey lengths may be longer.  Every new road built has generated more traffic and the planned developments in the Blackdog-Peterhead corridor will guarantee this.

But what is vexing me is how this road will be paid for.  The current estimates for the road are £295-395m of which about £100m has already been spent.  Now no-one believes the bill be simply be the £395m by the time it is built.  But let's take the £395 figure, in which case Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Council will each need to find £37.5m.

Both councils have funding pressures and this will only get worse over the next 5 to 10 years.

How is the Scottish Government going to fund this?  Can the councils afford it?

Copenhagen - it up to us.

It seems the politicians have failed to deliver the necessary actions at Copenhagen.  There are some fine words - but there is a world of  difference between good intentions and long term promises and the concrete action needed.

So we need to do, without the help of the policies and initiatives that would help, what we can.   So please sign up to 10:10 and encourage everyone you know - individuals, organisations, and businesses to sign up to.

Hopefully this is a setback - the fine words may yet turn into the real action needed.  But the clock is ticking away and the longer action is delayed, change will then have to be harder and faster.

The planet will survive - but without action, the lives of almost everyone on earth will be affected and for some that impact will be deadly.  The Scottish Government's recent Climate Change Adaptation document makes interesting reading.  The kind of floods that we had in November may become normal.  

P&J says it will not report anti-Trump stories.

The Press and Journal has thrown away all pretence of balanced reporting on Trump today.  In a series of articles, it claims that Tripping up Trump has tenuous links to the NE of Scotland and finally says 

"This newspaper has given a voice to all those who have wished to become involved in the debate about Donald Trump’s plans. That courtesy was extended to Tripping Up Trump in the belief that it was bona fide group of local environmentalists. Today, it has been withdrawn."
This is sad day for freedom of speech and good journalism in the NE of Scotland. 

Read all four articles for yourself.

Councillor Risk

This is an extract from Aberdeenshire Council's Corporate Risk Register. I noticed this amongst 240 other risks as it was "Increasing".

Risk No Risk Risk Type Potential Impact Inherent Risk Mitigants & Controls Residual Risk Risk Status
Probability Impact Risk Rating Probability Impact Risk Rating
C019 Councillor objective may be at divergence from Council Vision and Objectives. Political Reduction in ability to deliver Council's Vision 2 4 8 Council:CMT communication CPP process Committee processes 3 2 6 Increasing

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Should Holyrood rule?

Fiona Hyslop has threatened to take education away from local councils - because they haven't delivered smaller primary class sizes.  And now the SNP government is apparently considering removing social care from local councils too.    That would centralise about three-quarters of local government spending. 

I happen to believe in local people making local decisions.  And if that means that government manifesto policies are not delivered so be it.   It's local councils that run schools so Holyrood may ask for smaller class sizes.  But they can not demand it.

And it worries me that people who want independence for Scotland, don't understand that democracy at council level matters too.

Fiona Hyslop has been removed from post. 

Is Aberdeenshire in favour of 10:10 after all?

Yesterday, the Provost refused to allow a motion on 10:10 from Martin Ford to be debated, saying it needed discussion at Policy and Resources. But today, a news release on Aberdeenshire's website asked residents to support 10:10. Now any support is welcome.

But as Martin says

"What happened overnight? Certainly there was no meeting of the Policy & Resources Committee. Yet the Council's public relations department has now issued a press release quoting leading members of the administration group backing 10:10.

"But this U-turn has made the Council look ridiculous and vulnerable to a charge of hypocrisy. The Council itself wouldn't sign up yesterday. Today it wants others to do what it wouldn't."

I spotted the news release at lunchtime today and felt disgusted that two councillors from the ruling group were now asking for support for 10:10 and that council officers had given their very thin release official sanction.

It would be a serious matter if Council staff are being used for party political purposes. Are officers acting impartially towards the different political groups on the Council?  Will the Council now be publishing my press releases?  I doubt it as they won't link their website to my blog!

Aberdeenshire supports Vote Earth

Aberdeenshire Council today unanimously agreed to support the Vote Earth campaign. Things are moving in the right direction with President Obama and China both making positive statements today. I hope that Copenhagen can produce a binding deal. The latest scientific advice is that unless emissions are stabilised by 2015-2020, then it may all be too late. So we have to start some serious cuts now.

That's why campaigns like 10:10 matter - and I am hopeful that when Aberdeenshire's Policy and Resources Committee discussed this, they will sign up. I've signed up personally - have you?

There is a problem however. Despite both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats nationally being against the third Heathrow runway, they would not support a motion congratulating BAA for halting work on this. Why - it now won't be built and it costs nothing to acknowledge the fact. Is it because Martin Ford proposed the motion? Or is it simply that they believe all economic growth is good - and hang the consequences?

Brewdog expansion approved

Brewdog, Scotland most innovative brewery today had its proposal for a new eco-brewery and tourist facility at Potterton approved.

I suspect a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin may be opened in celebration. Health warning: this is a very strong beer and must be treated with respect.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog on Vimeo.


Aberdeenshire took a small step towards giving the Menie residents some comfort that they will not be subject to CPOs. They approved a motion without a vote that affirmed a commitment to UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights including article 17 (2) "no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property"

Of course there is some scope for interpretation. Some of my colleagues may still think that a golf course and housing development is more important but at least we know know that 74% of the population disagree.

Please keep up the pressure - detailed on who voted which way on the explicit vote on the Menie CPOs is below.

More houses for rent - but who is paying

The SNP government has announced plans to buy up 2000 houses that private developers can't sell - using money that local councils will borrow.  But the £200m cost of the scheme has to come out of someone's pocket and it looks like local councils may be forced to pick up the bill - while the government gets all the credit.  The houses would be sold and the funds put back to councils when the house market picks up.  A new body would be responsible for managing these properties - but why set-up a new Quango, when Housing Associations could do this?

Co-incidentally Housing Associations have been told that their funding for new permanent homes for rent will be £200m less next year .....

See press article for more information.

Aberdeenshire challenged over Trump

My constituent Molly Forbes who is at risk of being forced out of her home by the Trump development at Menie has raised a legal challenge to Aberdeenshire Council's planning decisions.

Permission was recently granted to add land at Mill of Menie (where Molly lives), Menie Fishing Stations, Leyton Cottage, Hermit Point, Leyton Farm plus some council owed land to the outline permission granted by the SNP government.

Subsequently, Aberdeenshire council, without waiting for the conditions of the original outline permission to be fulfilled, granted permission for the start of the destruction of the SSSI - stabilisation with marram grass and fencing.

Molly's challenge is to the process used by Aberdeenshire in these applications.

This is a brave step by Molly who is seeking to protect her home and the homes of her neighbours.

The planning permissions are

Cats against climate change


I spent part of this afternoon asking people to send their own message to the politicians who will be at Copenhagen.   Many were very willing - and a few took time to draw pictures and write throughtful contributions.  But I found it sad that some said they thought there was no point - that things had gone too far and there was no way back.

They may be right - the target of limited global warming to 2 degrees only gives us a 50:50 chance of stopping the situation escalating out of control.  But 50:50 is better in my book than certainty.  We have to try.

Thanks to Friends of the Earth for running the "message in a bottle" event.

And I took a few minutes out to join a few hundred people at the Union Square Mall for a flash mob.  We all fell asleep for 5 minutes - to the bemusement of many.

Planning consensus

A surprising amount of consensus broke out at the Formartine Area Committee meeting today on planning matters.

Brewdog - a Fraserburgh-based brewery wanting to expand on a site near Potterton gained support despite the site's Greenbelt status - see Paul Johnston's blog for details.  It'll be interesting to see what Full Council makes of this next week, especially as the details will be new to the vast majority as only 16 councillors (out of 68) were at the pre-determination hearing.

But we came dangerously close to approving significant internal modifications to the A-listed Barra Castle near Oldmeldrum despite very strong opposition from Historic Scotland.   Some councillors started from a position that changes didn't matter if they were not seen.   However, second thoughts prevailed and we stepped back from a careless grant.  

I do however worry about the scrutiny of some things.  We had in front of us proposals for some £2m a year worth of council house upgrades but with policy set by the central Social Work and Housing Committee but Area's approving the spends, there may be some lack of control.  Part of the problem as usual is that Council are required to jump through a standard set by central government even if they could perhaps do better for their tenants by other means.

The priorities are supposed to have Energy Efficiency Improvements as a priority but apart from good progress towards the Scottish Quality Standards, there was scant detail on the actual quality of what was being proposed.  The route to addressing fuel proverty is not necessarily new heating systems but to minimise the heating needed through better insulation.  Hopefully officers will come back to me with details of the standards for the work (e.g. the U-values aimed for in the door and window replacements) and what other energy efficiency measures are in the plan ....  But I fear that the focus is to deliver a set standard.

Aberdeen against Climate Change

I have been asked about local action relating to the Copenhagen talks. The only street event I know about is:
Friends of the Earth will be helping you to send a Message in a Bottle to Copenhagen 1-3pm Saturday 21st November, St. Nicholas Square (outside M&S). Collected messages will be conveyed to Copenhagen in December at the time of the all important summit. Please write your message - and if you can volunteer to help collect messages, just turn up and offer to help.
I would also urge you to make your views known direct to our parliamentarians. The simplest way is via if you wish, contact your councillors too - we need to do what we can as individuals, at work, and in public life at all levels.

I think there are a few key messages that we need to get across
  • We need action at all levels now.
  • The developed world must lead - we have emitted most carbon so far so it is only fair for us to reduce first and fastest.
  • Change will not be easy for any of us - but the alternative is worse.
  • We can and will do our bit - but we need our politicians to take a lead. 

Support for Trump crumbles .... and questions about Council impartiality.

You may be interested in this article by Ron Edwards in today's Sunday Herald (though I've linked to the blog version as I prefer a picture of the dunes, even if it is at Balmedie rather than Menie, to DT's face).

A YouGov poll sets opposition to the use of CPOs at 74%, rising to 86% amongst LibDem voters.   The four families involved should take heart from this poll finding - but they are not safe in their homes until the council rules out the use of CPOs.   I am not surprised by the overwhelming opposition to the use of CPOs - this is one of those "all right thinking people" questions.  The surprise has always been the extreme reluctance of the majority of my council colleagues to make their position clear.  

For entertainment, you may also be interested in this David Letterman interview with the McDonald who reveals the source of his 93% support claim!

Dance for Climate Change

There are many ways to make your voice heard in the run up to Copenhagen.

Sign up to the 10:10 campaign - a commitment to cut your emissions by 10% in 2010 and gives some practical advice on how.

Sign up to the WWF's Earth Hour Campaign

Join the Wave in Glasgow on 5th December.

But let's also celebrate what people can do together, so let me share Dance for Climate Change with you.


Welcome to Mark

A very warm welcome to Councillor Mark Cullen who has joined Paul Johnston, Sam Coull and Martin Ford in the Democratic Independent Group (DIG) on Aberdeenshire Council.

Mark has shown independence of thinking and a firm determination to judge issues on their merits and I look forward to working more closely with him - and occasionally having my thinking challenged by him.

Mark brings the DIG to 5 members, which now entitles the Group to a place on all five Aberdeenshire policy committees and a place on various smaller sub-committees and working groups.

Congratulations to Martin Ford - nominated as Scottish councillor of the year

Congratulation to my colleague Martin Ford for being nominated for Councillor of the Year in the Herald's Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.  Martin is up against Steven Purcell, Leader of Glasgow and COSLA President Pat Waters.  To be nominated as a backbench councillor is a significant achievement.

The citations for all three are
  • Aberdeenshire councillor Martin Ford made the headlines by taking on Donald Trump over the multi-billionaire developer’s plans for a golf course and housing. His stance led to his resignation from the LibDem group on the council.
  • Steven Purcell, the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council, is Scotland’s highest profile councillor. In the last few years, he has helped bring the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow and changed the city’s image.
  • South Lanarkshire Labour councillor Pat Watters is better known as the president of Cosla and, as such, is the voice of Scottish local government – a difficult job with 32 councils to represent. He has taken risks politically through his consistent support for the concordat with the SNP administration.
The full article is available here. 

National disgrace, scoundrel and extremist

To celebrate my formal acceptance into the Scottish Green Party, despite their being warned that, according to the Trump Organisation, I am a national disgrace, scoundrel and extremist, I have decided to rename this blog - and share a view of those famously beautiful dunes.


The Wave

T   A few days ago the Scottish Government published Production of a Time Series of Scotland's Ecological and Greenhouse Gas Footprints, It makes depressing reading with emissions rising steeply in the travels sector and little sign of reduction elsewhere.  Something has to change and we can help make that happen by convincing the politicians about to meet in Copenhagen that we care and change can happen..    

On Saturday 5 December 2009, ahead of the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen, thousands of people from across Scotland, from all walks of life, will flow through the streets of Glasgow to demonstrate their support for a safe climate future for all. The Wave is organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.

Join The Wave - Scotland’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change.
We want the UK Government to Share Scotland’s Ambition, Protect the Poorest and Act Fair & Fast.

Friends, old and new

I have had a delightful weekend at the Scottish Green Conference in Dumfries.  It was lovely to be greeted by old friends from my days of political activism in Edinburgh in the late 80s and early 90s.  And new friends came to the fore when flooding meant that the last leg of the return journey from Edinburgh to Aberdeen had to be abandoned.

I think I shall enjoy working in my new political home.  It is a smaller party than I have been used to but it is not that different to the Liberals in the 80s so there is a familiararity.  But also a positive engagement in trying to find real solutions and a new way forward that will benefit people and the environment.  The issues are huge, the answers are difficult and putting these into action harder still.  But I saw a real determination to align principles and practise and to engage with people - including the driver of the bus to Edinburgh who I suspect will never forget meeting Robin Harper.  I left the driver with a membership application form - from such seeds does a party grow.      

So thanks to everyone for a great weekend - and thanks for Maggie for her organisational skills and Moira for her hospitality.  Their actions turned a bad end to a wonderful weekend into a positve pleasure.

Now back to transport ....

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.

Time to put away permanently the CPO threat at Menie

I have now been contacted by all but one of those whose land was added to the outline planning permission on 1st September (see post below).  No-one wants to sell.  No-one feels it is fair or just to be asked to negotiate with Trump with the threat of CPOs on the table.

Yesterday I was told that part of the threat was very explicit - agree to our offer or as we have the people who wrote the rules on board, you'll be forced to sell anyway on our terms (see Rob Edwards article in the Sunday Herald)

It is not about money for the owners of Mill of Menie, Leyton Cottage, Hermit Point, Menie Fishing Station and Leyton Farm.  It is about their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property.  If they wish to sell fine.  If they don't no-one should make them.

That is simply what the debate on Thursday should be about.

It's not a difficult question.   It doesn't need long reports on the legal and financial ramifications of CPOs.  This is something Councils have the powers to do.  But Councils can choose not to use those powers.

It's not about money.   It's a simply matter of principles and ethics.    And it is about people.