There were around sixty people in the URC hall tonight to hear the Scottish Office reporter outline the procedures for the South Nairn planning appeal hearing. The hearing will take place on Tuesday the 22nd of April and Wednesday the 23rd of April and will conclude with a site visit. Present were several besuited folk who were no doubt present in a professional capacity; a strong contingent of Firhall residents; the Community Councils, Gordon’s Sawmill, the Nairn Concerned Residents Group and other sundry objectors.
There were a number of technical procedural questions for the reporter, mainly from Mr Charles Allenby’s representative.
It emerged that Cllrs Michael Green and Laurie Fraser will be representing the Highland Council. The Highland Council will also be in the unenviable position of seeing both the roads official who examined the applicant’s data and recommended approval and a hired hand appearing to support the Council’s case. The Council’s legal rep had indicated that they would be using an independent traffic engineer to put their new position on the South Nairn application but the Reporter wanted to see the mannie that made the initial assessment of the developer's assessment. When you think about it would perhaps be a little bizarre if an official who had argued the other way round on the day back in September would turn up backing the new position of the Council – a position that came about because of intense public pressure.
Joan Noble and others argued the point that it would be unfair on members of the public if the case against the development were not supported by a professional in this area. The Reporter then agreed that both the original official involved and the Council’s appointed expert for the hearing could both attend.
All this obviously demonstrates that the Reporter wishes to know much more about the traffic assessment and other factors concerning the road network around the site. The hearing will not take the shape of the adversarial public inquiry type of event that many Gurnites will have witnessed or read about in recent years but will be more of a round table discussion. The Reporter indicated that he hoped to have a decision on the appeal by the middle of June.