Fury over airport oil de­pot

The Oban Times - - Front Page - SANDY NEIL sneil@oban­times.co.uk

RES­I­DENTS of a trav­ellers’ site near Oban have slammed the coun­cil af­ter ap­proval was given for an oil de­pot within yards of their homes.

The peo­ple liv­ing at Ledaig, close to Oban Airport, say they fear for their safety and that of their chil­dren.

They be­lieve the fuel de­pot could be a ‘haz­ard’ to their homes and chil­dren walk­ing to school, but per­mis­sion was granted by Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil last week.

Fuel sup­plier Oil­fast ap­plied to build the oil de­pot, com­pris­ing two por­ta­ble build­ings, four stor­age tanks and a metal fence on coun­cil- owned land once used by its roads de­pot for salt stor­age, at the end of Oban Airport’s run­way.

Across the road are eight pitches in the Ledaig Trav­el­ling Per­sons’ Site, leased by Ar­gyll Com­mu­nity Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

Mary MacDon­ald, who lives at the Ledaig site with her hus­band and dis­abled daugh­ter, said: ‘ When I first heard about it, I did not re­alise it would be at my front door, so I did not do any­thing about it un­til it was too late. I can­not read or write.

‘It is so close. What would be the prob­lem of mov­ing it closer to the airport and have the lor­ries come in from the airport road?

‘These big lor­ries that come in, they do not slow down. There will be big con­trac­tors com­ing in.

‘This is a res­i­den­tial area. I think it is go­ing to be a real haz­ard for chil­dren.’

Twenty-four in­di­vid­u­als raised ob­jec­tions, in­clud­ing Ard­chat- tan Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, which had safety con­cerns about the prox­im­ity of large vol­umes of flammable fuel so close to the trav­ellers’ homes, and the threat HGV tankers posed to chil­dren walk­ing to the school bus, dog-walk­ers and cy­clists on the new Sus­trans Route 78 cy­cle path.

Coun­cil­lors Anne Horn, Julie McKen­zie and Iso­bel Strong, and Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara also made rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

On Wed­nes­day last week, Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s Plan­ning, Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices and Li­cens­ing (PPSL) com­mit­tee ap­proved the oil de­pot.

The plan­ners’ re­port, which urged coun­cil­lors to grant per­mis­sion, ar­gued most ob­jec­tions re­lated to the site’s use, ‘ which is not up for con­sid­er­a­tion’.

It con­tin­ued: ‘The use of the site for the stor­age and dis­tri­bu­tion of oil at the pro­posed scale does not con­sti­tute a ma­te­rial change of use. The de­ter­min­ing is­sue solely re­lates to sit­ing, lay­out and de­sign.

‘Sus­trans are on record as stat­ing a mi­nor road is suit­able for un­ac­com­pa­nied 11-year- olds to use pro­vided there are fewer than 1,000 ve­hic­u­lar move­ments per day. It is un­likely the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment will re­sult in more than 1,000.’

Signs ad­vis­ing mo­torists of an ‘ad­vi­sory speed limit’ would be erected as a con­di­tion, it added.

The re­ports states that the max­i­mum quan­tity of fuel to be stored would be 243 tonnes.

At the meet­ing, area team leader San­dra Davies added: ‘There is no petroleum to be stored on this site – purely do­mes­tic heat­ing oil, diesel.’

Coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Free­man asked if the plans showed a ‘burn­ing’ blast area, to which Ms Davies replied she would need to check, but ‘it could be added as a con­di­tion if re­quired’.

Coun­cil­lor Rory Colville drew at­ten­tion to the land­scap­ing, say­ing: ‘It seems con­tra­dic­tory that we are plant­ing trees, but not trees that at­tract birds.’

An­gus Gil­more, head of plan­ning and reg­u­la­tory ser­vices, replied: ‘ We were mind­ful we did not want to do some­thing that would en­croach on the op­er­a­tional area.’

Coun­cil­lor Roddy McCuish added: ‘Be­cause this was a coun­cil as­set, it was unan­i­mously ap­proved at the area com­mit­tee meet­ing to lease the site to Oil­fast. This is a very reg­u­lated in­dus­try and the many is­sues have been ad­dressed.’

Af­ter­wards, Oban North and Lorn Coun­cil­lor Julie McKen­zie re­acted, say­ing: ‘I am in­cred­i­bly dis­ap­pointed the com­mit­tee did not take this to a pub­lic hear­ing for the trav­ellers to have their say. These are peo­ple who can­not read or write.’

She added that Coun­cil­lor McCuish’s ar­gu­ment did ‘ not stack up’.

She said: ‘ There was a lack of info at that stage. It was not made clear how close the site was to the trav­ellers. No- one has worked out a blast area.’

Coun­cil­lor Free­man, she said, had also pointed out an ‘anom­aly’ in the tanks’ stor­age ca­pac­ity. She said: ‘The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion was based on 240 tonnes and it is now 370 tonnes. The ca­pac­ity is al­most dou­ble that pro­posed. [Cllr Free­man] asked for an ad­journ­ment, but could not get any­one to sec­ond him, sadly.’

THERE is a mod­ern ver­bal sim­ile gain­ing trac­tion that refers to ‘low-hanging fruit’. It sug­gests, of course, that some­thing is eas­ily picked off.

It is as ap­pro­pri­ate a phrase as any other to ap­ply to Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee.

Fast on the back of the plan­ning au­thor­ity be­ing de­scribed in last week’s

Oban Times as ‘not fit for pur­pose’ by Con­nel Com­mu­nity Coun­cil comes an­other woe­ful de­ci­sion.

The good peo­ple of Con­nel railed against the plan­ning com­mit­tee over its de­ci­sion not to en­force its own rules in re­spect of hous­ing be­ing built too close to vil­lage res­i­dent Ann Colthart’s home.

Now the com­mit­tee mem­bers have voted to al­low the cre­ation of an oil de­pot within yards of the trav­ellers’ site near to Oban Airport.

As we re­port this week, fuel sup­plier Oil­fast ap­plied to build the oil de­pot, which will in­clude four stor­age tanks, at the end of Oban Airport’s run­way. Across the road are eight pitches in the Ledaig Trav­el­ling Per­sons’ Site, leased by Ar­gyll Com­mu­nity Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

More than 20 ob­jec­tions were lodged, in­clud­ing one from Ard­chat­tan Com­mu­nity Coun­cil, on var­i­ous grounds, in­clud­ing the dan­ger of plac­ing such large amounts of highly flammable fuel so close to homes and the threat to peo­ple’s safety posed by the oil tankers rum­bling to and from the lo­ca­tion. There were also rep­re­sen­ta­tions made by a num­ber of coun­cil­lors and the area’s MP, Bren­dan O’Hara.

None of this washed with the plan­ning com­mit­tee.

Don’t be mis­led by the use of the term ‘trav­el­ling per­sons’ site’. It is not a tem­po­rary camp­ing ground.

This is, in fact, a res­i­den­tial area. Fam­i­lies live here per­ma­nently and their chil­dren have to use the tankers’ ac­cess road to get to and from school.

This is an­other poor de­ci­sion and the peo­ple at Ledaig de­serve bet­ter.

The new oil de­pot will be very close to trav­ellers’ homes.

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