Wild beaver worries have halted a hugely controversial housing plan at Tayside’s biggest village.
Nearly 800 people and organisations have now objected to proposals for a massive new estate to the north of Scone.
Many opponents claim the development will create a rat run through the village, aggravating pollution and congestion problems.
The council is being urged not to allow the 700-property scheme to go ahead before the long-awaited £113 million Cross Tay Link Road – providing a link between Scone and the A9 – is in place.
But now the multi-million-pound project has been hit by delays, after concerns were raised to planning officers that beavers could be living at the earmarked site.
Developer A&J Stephen was asked to look into the claims and has produced a report which argues that beavers do live close to the land, but not on it.
A public consultation was originally due to end on Friday, but residents have been given an extra month to digest and respond to the new information.
Perth and Kinross Council has received 790 letters and emails about the proposal. Almost all are calling for the scheme to be rejected, or at least shelved until the Tay link road is built. An embargo which stated only the first 100 houses could be built before the CTLR was controversially lifted last year.
Only a handful – less than five, according to the council’s online planning portal – have written in support of the plan.
A spokeswoman for Perth-based A&J Stephen said: “We have been asked by Perth and Kinross Council to submit a report considering the presence of beavers in the proximity of the site.
“In response to this, we appointed a consultant to conduct an investigation.
“His report confirms that there are beavers downstream of the site, however they are not present within the site and states that if they eventually migrated to the site, mitigation measures could be implemented through a beaver management plan.”
The Bridgend, Gannochy and Kinnoull Community Council is demanding that the link road (CTLR) is in place “before any further houses are built on the A93/A94 corridor”.
Chairman Jack Rivett said: “The CTLR during construction will severely increase traffic flows at Bridgend and elevate the already high emission readings experienced here.
“The CTLR will not prevent Scone residents travelling into Perth via Bridgend and the addition of 700 houses will further degrade the poor air quality already experienced in the Bridgend area.”
He said the extra traffic would, at peak times, create a “rat run” through Gannochy and Kinnoull.
In his objection letter, local councillor Lewis Simpson said he was also worried about the impact on local schools and surgeries.
Although a primary school could be built as part of the new development, it would only be created at a later phase, only once hundreds of homes are already in place.
Mr Simpson said: “The Robert Douglas Memorial School is already almost at capacity and there is no indication where any extra children are to be educated in advance of a new school on the site.
“Moreover, the Perth and Scone Medical Group is at present unable to increase the size of its Scone surgery due to space constraints and is therefore not in a position to manage an increased patient list.”
Swinney calls meeting to resolve dispute
Perthshire North MSP John Swinney has offered to arrange a meeting to resolve the dispute over the status of the Cross Tay Link Road.
An early version of the council’s Local Development Plan stated that the full development could not go ahead until the CTLR was “constructed”.
However, the final version which was unanimously approved by councillors, changed the wording so that the bridge project only needed to be “committed”.
Mr Swinney, who attended a packed public meeting in Scone about the development, said: “There are significant concerns surrounding this application and I hope the local authority will agree to my offer to facilitate a discussion between their representatives, and those of the community council, in order to help resolve some of the issues that have arisen.
“I am particularly aware of concerns that have been raised by some in the community regarding the timing of any housing developments, and the timing of the development of the Cross Tay Link Road.”
He said: “Of course, a number of other issues including the impact that new houses could have on air quality in the area, local drainage and local services including the local school and doctor’s surgery must also be carefully considered during the progress of the application.
“I hope the community’s concerns will be taken into due consideration.”
Mr Swinney said it was “very disappointing” that the CTLR issue is still in dispute.
“It is something that I would hope could be resolved by means of a discussion between Perth and Kinross Council and Scone and District Community Council,” he said.
“I have previously offered to facilitate such a discussion and I have re-emphasised this offer in my most recent correspondence to the local authority.”
Council denies traffic wardens claim
Perth and Kinross Council has denied claims it used traffic wardens to target residents attending a public meeting on the Scone proposals.
Hundreds attended talks at the Robert Douglas Memorial Institute at the end of January.
It was the second such meeting, specifically arranged for people who couldn’t get into the first meeting because it was so busy.
Several people who attended the evening talks said they were surprised to find parking tickets on their vehicles.
It led to accusations that the council had purposefully targeted the evening-time event.
One resident who attended the talks said: “If traffic wardens were so concerned why did they not turn up at 7pm and inform people to park elsewhere.
“This will only cause anger within the village and I imagine that some people might view this as the council’s method of showing their displeasure to people who object to a planning proposal.”
A spokeswoman for the council stressed that the wardens were reacting to complaints from locals about people parking on double yellow lines.
She said: “On a regular basis, parking attendants work later into the evening to monitor parking across all of Perth and Kinross at the request of members of the public and elected members to reduce anti social and dangerous parking.
“As a result of a number of complaints from Scone residents regarding parking problems in the area during the evening, the parking attendants visited Scone to address issues of illegal parking. In addition, Scone was not the only area monitored that week.”