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‘I fear for my safety and privacy over electric charger plan next to petrol station,’ says Black Isle woman

By Philip Murray

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The EV chargers and car parking are planned for the land between The Forge and the filling station. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The EV chargers and car parking are planned for the land between The Forge and the filling station. Picture: James Mackenzie.

A WORRIED resident who feels almost like a “prisoner in my home” has raised concerns over privacy and fire safety after plans for an EV charge hub were lodged in Tore.

Sheena Taylor, who lives next to the Tore Filling Station, has objected to plans by Swarco Smart Charging to create a car park with electric vehicle charging on land between her house and the petrol station’s main building.

The application also requires a ‘change of use’ for some of the land, as it sits atop the site of a former house and garden known as Oak Cottage, which once acted as a buffer between Ms Taylor’s home and the garage, but which was demolished several years ago. The land is still designated as being residential use despite being open ground and used as an unofficial car park since then.

And Ms Taylor, who says the loss of the neighbouring cottage and the site’s use as an unofficial parking area has had a dramatic impact on her privacy, fears granting the change of use and creation of a dedicated car park with spaces facing onto her property will only make matters worse.

“Since 2019 [when the cottage was demolished] I’ve chosen to have the curtains in the windows in my bedroom permanently closed,” she explained, saying that when Oak Cottage existed it blocked the view from the garage into her home and “gave me privacy”, but added: “Not now, now you can see directly into the bedroom.”

She added: “It’s so close to the North Coast 500, so in summer time there’ll be all these vehicles – it’s going to get more and more vehicles.”

She also flagged concerns over the entrance being right next to her drive’s entrance, adding: “The only division between my property and the filling station is a few plastic bollards and my wooden [garden] fence.

“There are all sorts of safety issues. I was nearly knocked down before. My drive is just next to the filling station and if a lot of vehicles are using it, it gets impossible at times to get out in the car. I feel like a prisoner in my home and this could get worse.”

Although documents lodged with the application appear to place electric charge points at the east of the proposed parking area, she also fears the relative proximity of them to her garden’s wooden fence and outbuilding.

“The electric vehicle chargers are for the public, and if they are used over a long enough time then I think there’s a very real risk of fire [at some point] and the only thing protecting my home is a wooden fence and a wooden [garage].”

Kilearnan Community Council, which covers Tore, has not objected to the planned EV charger site and car park in principle, but did flag several concerns within the community over existing road traffic safety issues.

Responding to Highland Council in its capacity as a statutory consultee, a spokesperson for the community council said: “There is no objection in principle but concerns have already been raised for some time about road safety on the A832 from Tore Roundabout to the filling station.”

They said several issues “need to be addressed”, including the way the road “narrows considerably, making it difficult for two [lorries] and/or buses to pass one another”.

They continued: “There are electric poles and lamp posts on the verges close to the edges of the road; the road is very close to the small gardens of houses on the approach to the roundabout; there are no footpaths for pedestrians to access [the] bus stop or garage shop or post box.”

They also said the speed limit in the community was also still 40mph, implying that the limit is too high and potentially dangerous.

Transport Scotland has not objected to the proposals.

Swarco Smart Charging did not respond to a request for comment before going to print.

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