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In a move bound to spark further controversy, Highland Council has granted consent to the operators of the pier at Annat Point in Corpach for the berthing of vessels on Sundays.
The Section 42 permission, however, is only for a year and locally-based company, Boyd Bros (Haulage) Ltd, faces a number of stringent conditions attached to the consent.
There have been years of endless wrangling in the area over levels of noise and other forms of pollution and disturbance, and almost a year to the day, this saw frustrated councillors agree to formally object to proposals for berthing and disembarking of ships on Sundays.
Local Caol and Mallaig councillor Ben Thompson told the Lochaber Times: ‘Planners have proposed that Corpach harbour operators, Boyd Bros, be given permission to dock under strict rules on Sundays for a trial period of one year only.
‘The permission they recommended is for safety reasons with restrictions include no loading or unloading during Sunday. I requested and received the committee support to require Boyds to meet with a Community Liaison Group [CLG] to keep the community informed about the Sunday docking they do undertake over the next 12 months.
‘That way I hope we can start a process of better management of the pollution issues that so many residents are rightly complaining about.’
Boyd Bros has previously pledged there will be no stevedoring involved on Sundays if the application was approved.
Commenting on behalf of Kilmallie Community Council, acting chairman John Hutchison, agreed that due to the level of on-going local concern about noise at Annat, a temporary consent for a one year trial period seemed the right way forward.
‘The decision notice requires a community liaison group to be set up before any Sunday docking, which means right away. While we expect all operators to abide by statutory requirements we also expect the Highland Council to enforce the conditions it imposes,’ Mr Hutchison added.
Both Boyd Bros and nearby BSW, which operates the local sawmill, were not enthusiastic about an earlier invitation to participate in a CLG but now that it is a requirement, at least for the pier area.
However, Highland Council’s decision means the local authority now faces the question of how and when it intends to get the CLG in place given that the CLG was to be set up. ‘before development commences’, which meant last week.
Kilmallie CC had already offered a draft remit for a CLG to the council in November – also agreed by Ardgour Community Council – but this was rejected initially in principle by some of the Annat firms.
Given therefore that a draft remit already, exists, many local residents will be of the opinion that there should be no delay getting a CLG set up.
Sam Thomson, chairperson of Ardgour Community Council, told us:’Ardgour Community Council made no major objections to the planning application for Sunday berthing as long as any permissions and stipulations were adhered to, including no operational use on a Sunday.
‘We continue to do our best to work with Boyd Bros, as we do other businesses, to highlight areas of concern to our community. We feel strongly that a community liaison group would be the best way forward and were very happy this was stipulated as one of the planning consent conditions.
‘We will continue to pursue this as an ultimate goal and until this happens, we encourage continued communication between the businesses and their surrounding communities and will do our best to facilitate this.’