C Controversy has once again reared its head in the Overburns Farm planning application as it emerged that the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) may rescind its objection to the plans.
In a further twist the Clyde River Action Group (CRAG) has claimed that the authors of an independent report, which prompted SEPA to advise the council that it may rescind its objections, had two Board Directors of developer Patersons of Greenoakhill on its board, namely William Paterson and James Richardson.
CRAG Chairwoman Caroline Parker revealed the pressure group was only alerted to the connection by a member of the public and has urged both the Scottish Government and South Lanarkshire Council to refuse to consider the application.
She said: “Patersons of Greenoakhill Ltd had been ‘named and shamed’ as one of the top 25 worst despoilers of Scotland’s landscape. This was according to SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.
“Huge public anger followed the company’s application, as among other aspects, there would be an additional 25,000 or more lorry movements on the dangerous A702 Edinburgh/M74 road, each belching diesel fumes.
“Even worse was the destruction of many rare wildlife habitats. SEPA strongly objected, and the councillors rejected the plan.
“The current Planning Act calls for an independent environmental report on such major applications.
“Now it emerges that SEPA officials are advising the council it may rescind its objections on the basis of the independent report submitted for Patersons.
“This was drafted by a company called Envirocentre Ltd.
“But the Chairman of Patersons William Paterson, turns out to be a Board Director of Envirocentre. That makes the report about as independent as Palestine!
“The Scottish Government and SEPA must press South Lanarkshire Council to withdraw this awful application immediately, and set up an enquiry into doubtful practices apparently abusing planning law.”
In a letter to the council SEPA confirmed that it would not object to the application providing certain planning conditions were met.
The Gazette was waiting for a response from Patersons as it went to press this week.
South of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish is already taking action on the subject.
She said: “The views of SEPA will carry considerable weight when a decision on this application is made and it is vitally important that the basis of their assessment is impartial.
“People will naturally be suspicious if key evidence verification which has led to the reversal of SEPA’s decision comes from a source that is in any way linked to the applicants.
“This is particularly concerning as Envirocentre has signed a South Lanarkshire ‘Flood Risk Assessment – Independent Check Certificate’.
“I will be writing to SEPA to ask for clarification on their assessment of the information and to ask whether they consider it appropriate under the circumstances.
“I will also be asking South Lanarkshire Council whether this apparent conflict of interest invalidates the information provided and indeed the application itself.”