The Gurn had already reported the controversial issue of two Councillors being excluded from the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area planning committee on Friday. The eventual decision was taken by only eight members of the 17 strong committee however. The Press and Journal reports:
'Highland councillors unable to attend a key planning meeting for health reasons or due to long-term commitments have responded to their critics.
Seven of the 17-member Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey area planning committee were unable to be at a special hearing on Friday on the contentious issue of a 33-turbine windfarm proposal for Dunmaglass Estate, near Loch Ness, 15 miles south-west of Inverness.
Two others had to leave the room because of their public objections to the scheme.
More than a dozen of the 1,556 objectors to the proposed 394ft high turbines travelled to the Inverness meeting.
Several were angry that only eight committee members were in the chamber to consider the council’s view on the planning application.
The committee voted six-two not to object to Hertfordshire-based developer RES Group’s plans.'
Whatever your position on wind energy this doesn't look good for democracy. It's 2010 and a new age of technology, why can't Councillors absent on business or through ill-health simply use their Highland Council laptops or Blackberries to vote? They could all be issued with a password to enable them to do so or could e-mail the planning department with their decision beforehand, or maybe even a snail mail vote such as that available to the electorate at the General Election. It makes a mockery of the system if technology is ignored, maybe there needs to be a change in the law to allow it to happen? Read the full P&J article here. ( I wonder how long we'll be able to link to these articles, will the P&J go behind a pay wall like the Times Group are planning to do?).