Plans for a western link road into Elgin are set to be renewed with council officers insisting that they are confident the reasons for refusal of the original application “can be addressed”.
Moray Council now say that construction works on the link road are intended to begin in the spring of 2016 and completed by the end of the following year.
However, the former chairman of the Council’s planning committee has said he is “astonished” by such claims, adding that the press release making the claims was “disrespectful”.
The local authority set out a new timetable for a revised planning application after prompting from the Scottish Government reporter, who was appointed to scrutinise the new Moray Local Development Plan.
Supplementary information was requested by the reporter on the timing and delivery of the link road for which an original planning application was rejected by the planning and regulatory services committee at the conclusion of a hearing in November.
That decision was later thrown into controversy when the economic development and infrastructure services committee reaffirmed commitment to the project – a move that was later endorsed by a meeting of the full council.
In their response to the reporter the Moray Council said: “Council officers are now working with the appointed consultants with the aim of submitting a revised application during summer 2015 with a view to this being determined before the end of the year.
“If this is achieved it is intended to begin construction works in spring 2016, with an estimated 18-month construction programme resulting in completion before the end of 2017.”
Last night the former chairman of the planning committee that rejected the original plan, Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross, said he was “astonished” at the claim the reasons for the original refusal can be so easily overcome.
Councillor Ross said: “The council are the 26 elected representatives of Moray Council and the first I knew about a Scottish Government reporter looking for more information and indeed our apparent response was when the press release was issued – so I’m not sure who our PR team are speaking about when they say the council.
“As Chairman of the Planning Hearing which refused the earlier application I’m astonished anyone can say that the reasons for refusal of the original application can be addressed. I’ve seen no information at either the planning committee or Economic Development committee that would allow me or any other councillor to come to that conclusion.
“I feel this press release is disrespectful to the campaigners who were against this application and the councillors who voted to refuse it for strong planning reasons, by now glibly saying all our concerns will be addressed.
“I also have to question why council officers are choosing to submit the revised planning application in the summer when a lot of people will be busy with holidays at the time they are expected to submit representations on the application.
“Everything I’ve read in this press release suggests to me that certain people within the council are determined to bulldoze this project through no matter what. I think that is very dangerous in a so called democracy.”