Developer orders review of Upper Achintore site conditions after dust complaints

Work under way in Fort William's Angus Crescent this week. Photograph: Abrightside Photography. NO F14 Angus Crescent development-4
Work under way in Fort William's Angus Crescent this week. NO F14 Angus Crescent development-4

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After complaints of excess dust, traffic issues and concerns about the fate of thousands of cubic metres of peat from its new housing project in Fort William, a developer has raised concerns with its contractor and ordered a review of site conditions.

Work started on Link Housing Association’s new £23.94 million affordable housing development in the town’s Upper Achintore area at the end of February.

In the end more than 300 houses are planned but there have been long-running worries over drainage issues, flooding risks and the increase in traffic, as well as concerns about the removal of around 17,000 cubic metres of peat during construction.

The Upper Achintore Regeneration Group (UARG) had already objected to the peat removal element of the project on the grounds that it appeared to contravene Scottish Government objectives as set out in its Climate Change Policy.

UARG chairman Mark Linfield told the Lochaber Times there was a ‘let-out’ clause in the policy that allowed such actions where there was no alternative.

Mr Linfield explained: ‘In this instance Link Housing advised there was no alternative and that the excavated peat would be used to cover the landfill waste site at Duisky Tip. Highland Council Planning has approved this arrangement and SEPA has not objected.’

Mr Linfield continued ‘We are disappointed that there was apparently no alternative to
hauling the peat 20 miles from the site and hope that the future phases do not require
such drastic measures.’

He also outlined the concerns raised about Angus Crescent that the intensity
of HGV activity was generating dust, and said one resident described it as ‘covering
the crescent and it made us cough when we were out walking; it has covered the cars
with dust and I’ve had to clean the inside of the house. It’s not normal dust, it’s a dirty
dust’.

Dr Kate Willis, Scottish Greens Highland Council candidate for Fort William and Ardnamurchan, said she understood and supported the need for more affordable housing in the area, but not at the expense of the environment and local communities.

‘The removal of a large volume of carbon-storing peat for the housing development in Upper Achintore is not acceptable in a climate and ecological crisis and will not help Highland Council, or Scotland, meet its carbon reduction targets,’ Dr Willis added.

‘I also have serious concerns about the noise, disturbance and road safety for residents living along the route between Upper Achintore and Duisky due to the huge number of heavy lorries required to transport the peat to Duisky, which in turn are further contributing to carbon emissions and reducing air quality.’

Dr Willis said there were also concerns about how the extracted peat was being treated at the dump site to ensure its integrity so that it did not release even more carbon.

A Link Housing Association spokesperson said: ‘Following a complaint from a local resident regarding dust on the site, we have raised this with the contractor and instructed our clerk of works to review site conditions.

‘The clerk of works inspected this week [now last week] and reported they did not observe any substantial dust being created by excess dirt on the road.

‘We have requested further clarification from the resident about where the specific issue was and, once this has been established, the contractor will put in place appropriate measures to reduce the amount of dust.

‘Our contractor has advised road cleaning is currently being undertaken when deemed necessary. Our clerk of works will review this and request extra street cleaning where required.

‘Access to the hills from this area is of great value to residents and tourists alike and the contractor has established a diversion of the core path system to ensure this remains open whilst we are redeveloping this area.

‘The contractor has also introduced temporary traffic management systems to slow down all traffic and manage access to the site around school opening and closing times to minimise disruption to residents.’

The spokesperson added that the process of peat storage and removal was in line with the environmental plan which was approved by The Highland Council.

CAPTION:

Work under way in Fort William’s Angus Crescent this week.

NO F14 Angus Crescent development-4