Travellers behind an unauthorised site at St Cyrus have requested a hearing to settle flooding concerns at the centre of a six-year planning battle.
North Esk Park applicants William Docherty and Jim Reid want to convince the Scottish Government-appointed reporter that the potential impacts of flooding associated with the proposed developments fall within acceptable levels.
The request was lodged with the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) in Falkirk after the pair’s retrospective planning applications were called in by Scottish Ministers.
The reporter will be asked to submit a report with recommendations to ministers for their consideration and determination.
The application will be scrutinised in view of its potential conflict with national policy on flooding after Aberdeenshire Council approved retrospective planning applications from the Travelling community for almost 20 touring and permanent pitches on June 26. This was despite an objection from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).
It was the second time councillors had agreed to approve the site, after a similar application was given the go-ahead in 2016.
A spokeswoman for Mr Docherty and Mr Reid said: “The applicants note that the Ministers have issued the directions in view of the proposed developments and the potential conflict with national policy on flooding.
“To date, in support of the applications, the applicants have provided a Flood Risk and Drainage Assessment involving hydraulic modelling undertaken by SLR Consultancy, as well as a Flood Resilience Plan prepared by the Scottish Flood Forum in consultation with the families residing at the application sites, to demonstrate that the potential impacts of flooding associated with the proposed developments fall within acceptable levels so as to allow for planning permission to be granted.
“The applicants request that a hearing session on flooding issues be arranged to allow for discussion of the relevant issues and technical evidence that has been provided by the applicants.”
The spokeswoman said the issues in dispute were confined to “relatively narrow points” connected to technical evidence and interpretations of it.
“The applicants consider that a hearing setting would allow for discussion of each issue in turn, while being mindful of the professional costs that the applicants will require to occur in order to participate effectively in such further procedure,” she added.
The North Esk Park site has substantially expanded since the first temporary homes appeared without prior authorisation in September 2013.
A previous application, approved by councillors in 2016, was called in by the Scottish Government when Sepa objected. The agency said the site had flooded in 2002, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
Ministers overturned the permission and Travellers were given until July 31 last year to clear the site.
The council then agreed to extend the deadline by six months before fresh applications were lodged.
The DPEA has said the reporter, once appointed, will be notified of the request.