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'Extra work' from Black isle biomass boiler retrospective planning applications sparks broadside from councillors

By Philip Murray

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Cllr Maxine Smith: Salesman should make requirements clear.
Cllr Maxine Smith: Salesman should make requirements clear.

BIOMASS boiler manufacturers and retailers should be more responsible and flag up that they need planning permission when selling them to Highland businesses and residents, councillors have argued.

Several members of the north planning application committee raised the issue when three separate retrospective planning permissions were sought for boilers that are already operating on the Black Isle.

The applications - all of which were granted unanimously after environmental health officers said they met emissions standards - concerned 15 boilers, installed at a trio of farm sites within roughly a kilometre of each other.

It is not the first time that retrospective permission has been sought for biomass boilers at sites across the region - and one councillor expressed their frustration that “considerable work” had been required of council officers in dealing with them and in checking that they fell within accepted limits.

Raising a question in the latest committee meeting, earlier this week, Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh ward councillor Derek Macleod said: “Should the manufacturer of these boilers not indicate as standard that planning permission is required to install them? It doesn’t seem to have happened.”

To which committee chairwoman and Cromarty Firth ward member, Cllr Maxine Smith, replied: “Yes they should, but they don’t.”

Dingwall and Seaforth Cllr Angela MacLean later added: “It is disappointing that this has to be retrospective and that it has caused planning officers considerable work. [It’d] be good to have done it in advance and the community council were quite right to highlight it.”

The applications were passed.

Cllr Smith added: “It is unfortunate that salesmen that sell these things don’t indicate that they do need planning consent - and it’s not good on their part.”

The three permissions – at Poyntzfield Farm, Farness and Udale Farm – had sparked an objection from Cromarty and District Community Council, whose concerns included fears over pollution, smoke drifting over the B9163 road and the impact on Udale bird sanctuary.

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