Leader for Thursday September 30

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This week we report on The Highland Council’s decision to approve a planning application for a new aluminium recycling plant adjacent to the Lochaber smelter site at Fort William.

While less than half the size when compared to the original plans for an alloy wheels factory by what was formerly known as Liberty British Aluminium and is now rechristened Alvance Aluminium – a division of the GFG Alliance group of companies – it is still a welcome £94m investment in Lochaber.

However, it is a bit much to expect community councils such as Kilmallie to wade through 132 pages of documents attached to the planning application to comment as a statutory consultee.

Community councils consist of unpaid elected members who are expected to give up hours of their time each week for the benefit of their communities and local democracy.

Taking Kilmallie as an example, not only has it to consider the ramifications of the recycling plant’s impact on the port at Corpach and all that might mean in terms of increased HGV movements, it also has on its plate the major development at Blar Mhor which encompasses not just scores of new homes, but the replacement for the Belford Hospital and a STEM centre.

Perhaps that is something Highland Council needs to bear in mind next time it is considering community council funding.