Scottish Government ministers have been accused of erecting a “wall of silence” over a Mearns Traveller encampment.
The North Esk Park development at St Cyrus was granted retrospective planning permission in June, following a six-year battle to legitimise a site that had already been built.
Officers are wrestling with the decision over whether to call in Aberdeenshire Council’s approval of the North Esk Park Traveller site at St Cyrus.
The local authority approved retrospective planning permission for the permanent site in late June, but it has now emerged the authority did not notify Scottish Government ministers of the decision until August.
North East region MSP Liam Kerr has asked Scottish Government planning minister Kevin Stewart to back “calling in” the decision, based on danger to human life.
It followed an objection by environment watchdog Sepa that said the site is a significant flood risk and has increased the danger of water rising elsewhere.
Following his response, the minister has been accused of “parroting” Scottish Government guidance from June, that it would “not be appropriate” to comment on the issue.
Mr Stewart said ministers had yet to decide whether there are “general national interests at stake.”
Scottish Conservative Mr Kerr said this application is what Ministers “are there for”.
He said: “The council was obliged to grant permission based on statutes imposed on them and I know that many councillors share my sympathy for the people of St Cyrus.
“It has to go above council level; this is a nationally significant issue which has ramifications if it’s not examined by Scottish Ministers.
“That’s what they’re there for – not parroting the government.
“Let’s not forget that allowing occupation of a flood risk area endangers the very lives of the families who live there.”
A previous application, approved by councillors in 2016, was called in by the Scottish Government when Sepa objected, revealing 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.
Because Sepa has also objected to the new plans, the applications were again referred to Scottish Government ministers.
Mr Stewart said: “The notification requirement gives ministers the opportunity to decide whether there are genuine national interests at stake which would merit ministers calling in the applications for their own determination, or to allow Aberdeenshire Council to issue the decisions at local level.
“I’m sure you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the merits of the proposal as that could prejudice the outcome of the planning process.”