Annat Pier operator wants community liaison group condition ditched

The entrance to Boyd Brothers at Corpach.
The entrance to Boyd Brothers at Corpach.Picture: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image. NO-F39-Boyd-Bros-entrance.jpg

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Corpach-based haulage firm and local harbour operators, Boyd Brothers (Haulage) Ltd, has appealed to the Scottish Government over a condition attached to its temporary planning consent allowing vessels to berth on Sundays that would see it required to join a community liaison group.

Boyd Brothers was granted a 12-month consent in May to allow for the berthing and disembarking of vessels at Annat Pier on a Sunday but with the condition that no stevedoring was permitted.

The firm has previously explained the permission is crucial for marine businesses to have the availability of port facilities on a Sunday, as this reduced costs and helped them to safely operate their vessels.

However, in its appeal to government ministers, Boyd Brothers said another condition requiring the formation of an Annat Pier Liaison Group that would involve local community councillors among others, was ‘disproportionate’ and it was concerned about its structure and function.

Boyd Brothers is arguing that, as the Sunday berthing permission is only temporary,  it is not a constructive use of resources or the proposed parties’ time to form a liaison group for a 12‐month trial period when the company now has no intention to pursue a further application for permanent permission under these conditions.

Boyd Brothers also says any new complaints that may arise from Sunday berthing would be minimal and from ship engines or generators. ‘It is not within our jurisdiction to regulate noise levels emitted from a ship’s engine whilst under way to or from the quay,’ said the company in its appeal statement.

It adds: ‘Any noise issues raised would be discussed between ship owners/operators and the authorities. As quay operators we would not be involved in this process and any issue would not be resolved in a liaison group setting.’

It has also told the government it feels it is being singled out as it would be the only commercial operator from the Annat Point Industrial Estate represented in the Annat Pier Liaison Group.

An earlier proposal to form a wider liaison group with all the commercial operators on the industrial estate, local councillors and community councils did not meet with much enthusiasm from a number  of the area’s big companies.

The company goes on to question whether it would get a ‘fair’ hearing at liaison group meetings going by some of the complaints it gets from local community councils.

Boyd Brothers concludes: ‘The added bureaucracy, lack of fair representation and conditions associated with the formation of a liaison group to deal with a small number of complaints from a small number of individuals seems excessive. Local industries, now more than ever, need support from authorities and communities to continue to develop and provide services without additional constraints.’

At the August meeting of Kilmallie Community Council, chairman John Hutchison described news of the appeal as ‘disappointing’ and added: ‘Clearly it is any applicant’s prerogative to appeal conditions, so while disappointing, there’s nothing improper and it just has to go through the process. It’s just got to take its course.’

Council secretary Russell Leaper added: ‘We don’t really see another route other than dialogue and collaboration, so it is disappointing if this [the liaison group] doesn’t happen because we expect to receive more complaints and continually have to deal with this.’