Fury over airport oil depot
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.