A Moray community angered over plans to build a commercial development along their picturesque seafront has received support from local MSP Richard Lochhead.
Moray Council planners received proposals for the creation of several beach-front homes to the east of Portgordon Harbour, part of a two-stage development that would include a new cafe and car park as well as boatyard facilities.
One of the most controversial aspects of the proposal, which developers say would enhance local facilities for residents and tourists, would be several arrays of solar panels at ground level in front of the shingle beach protecting the village.
Consultations between the developers and the local community have been taking place for some time, culminating in a presentation in the village two weeks ago. After studying the plans a group of residents contact Richard Lochhead with around 40 of them meeting the SNP MSP in Portgordon on Monday.
After taking a walk along the area planned for development, Mr Lochhead said: “Over 40 constituents turned out to convey to me their deep concerns over the proposed controversial development in Portgordon that will impact on the beach right in the heart of their community. The strength of local feeling clearly cannot be ignored.
“I firmly believe that our coastal villages need to have a say over their own futures and on balance I would hope that the applicants can be persuaded to withdraw their proposals.
“This would allow a proper conversation with the local community with a view to producing some consensus on the best use of such a prominent and strategic area of land. We are after all talking about the future of the beach area in the heart of a village.”
The MSP added that the effect on the village community and the opinion of those who live there had to be uppermost in the minds of both the developer and planners, saying that a development of this magnitude would have a very big impact on the daily life of the small community.
He said: “We have to remember that this is not a project amongst many in a large conurbation but one that will have a big impact on a small community. At the same time, I believe that the local community are open to new ideas but proposals created by individuals hundreds of miles away are usually not as good as proposals grown organically in local communities themselves.
“I have undertaken to get back to my constituents with information answering many of their questions. I will also be providing advice on what steps the community can take to take on ownership of land that comes on the market and other assets.
“After all, if this land had been in community rather than private ownership then the community would have a greater say over its own future.”