11 October 2019

Infrastructure Services Committee October round-up

A detailed discussion of the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan, an enforcement exercise around tobacco and vaping, and plans for affordable housing were among matters considered at the latest meeting of the Infrastructure Services Committee on Thursday (Oct 3).

Committee hears presentation on SSEN Tranmissions

The meeting began with a presentation by Scottish and Southern Electricity Network's Transmission team.

Russell Stewart and Lesley Dow gave an insight into a number of major projects the team is working on in Aberdeenshire and further afield.

A key element of the organisation’s £190million capital expenditure work is the upgrading of the north-east transmission network at Blackhillock, Keith, Kintore and Peterhead to operate at 400kilovolts(kV) as opposed to the existing operation at 275kV.

A rise in power generation within the north-east has also created a requirement for a new 400kV electricity substation near Peterhead Power Station at Boddam which will comprise four super grid transformers, a 400kV gas-insulated busbar, substation control building and associated infrastructure.

A further key driver is the arrival of electricity from Norway in October 2023 via the North Connect programme.

SSEN also plans to create the 500km 2 giga watt Eastern High Voltage Direct Current project from Peterhead Power Station to the Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire.

This subsea link will play an important role in delivering electricity  to homes and businesses across Britain, helping the country move towards a low carbon economy.
Huntly affordable homes application approved

Councillors approved plans for the creation of 20 flats and 17 houses with associated
infrastructure and landscaping at a site adjacent to Huntly's Tesco store on Deveron Way.
The committee heard the proposals for 100% affordable homes were of a high-quality design and would enjoy good connectivity. It was, however, a significant departure from the Local Development Plan in that the land was zoned for business use, but long-term marketing had failed to attract interest, said an agent for the applicant.

Cllr John Latham said Huntly needed this sort of affordable housing, with Cllr Robbie Withey describing it as a common-sense departure from the LDP.

Cllr Paul Johnston and Cllr Jim Ingram argued that the committee should not be departing from Policy B1 as it could not be justified due to the location of the site being unsuitable for residential housing.

The committee voted 11-3 to approve a delegated grant.

Newmachar house application supported

An application for the erection of a house at Disblair, Newmachar, was approved by the committee, with councillors hearing from both the applicant's agent and an objector representing local residents.

It was the view of officers that sufficient remains of a former building existed on the site for it to qualify as brownfield, and it had not become naturalised to the degree that the proposal would conflict with the policy criteria for replacement development.

Cllr Glen Reid and Cllr Robbie Withey motioned that the application be delegated for approval subject to conditions.

Cllr Paul Johnston and Cllr Brian Topping called for support of the Garioch Area Committee’s motion to refuse on the grounds that the proposal was contrary to Policy R2 as the site was considered to be naturalised, that the building was much larger and would result in the loss of agricultural land, that the proposal would result in the loss of trees and that the site would be prominent on the landscape.

Following an 11-3 vote, the application was delegated for approval.
LDP Main Issues Report submissions considered

There was considerable discussion on where housing should be developed in Aberdeenshire in the proposed 2021 Local Development Plan.

Bids from developers and the views of communities have been taken into consideration by the council's six area committees in recent weeks. Infrastructure Services Director Stephen Archer said the majority of matters had been discussed and agreed, but that 20 items from the Main Issues Report were yet to be resolved before the proposed LDP goes before Full Council later this year.

In addition to specific development zones, councillors also discussed matters including coastal zones, sustainable building design, open space allocations, use of administrative areas and a criteria approach to identify organic housing.
Roads and Transportation update
The committee was provided with an update on the authority's roads policies and assets. Following calls from Cllr Paul Johnston, the Service is to consider international research information relating to the impact on roads by both heavy and light vehicles.

Councillors welcomed the significant progress being made on a raft of strategic transport projects being led by the council, and acknowledged the progress being made with projects, activities and developments taken forward by Nestrans, external agencies and stakeholders.

In particular, elected members hailed the local authority's commitment to electric vehicle charging points and its E-Bike and cycling initiatives.

Recently, electric charge points have been installed and commissioned in Banff and Fyvie, with further sites to be developed in Newmachar, Turriff and Oldmeldrum.

Councillors also welcomed news that a council officer will attend the National Transport Awards in London following Aberdeenshire's nomination under the category 'Excellence in Walking, Public Realm and Cycling'.

The committee accepted a proposed consultation response to the draft National Transport Strategy. Following discussion, a number of points have been added to include references to the fishing industry in Fraserburgh, re-establishment of the Buchan railway line, identification of alternative options to deliver public transport in different ways, and work with Scandinavian partners to de-carbonise aviation.

The committee agreed to receive further updates on the progress of both the implementation and delivery of the Aberdeenshire Local Transport Strategy (LTS).

Resources and Circular Economy Commitment agreed

Councillors agreed the content of a draft Resources and Circular Economy Commitment which has been developed to provide direction for Aberdeenshire Council as it strives towards greater sustainability and responsibility in the way it considers, purchases and manages physical resources, and towards supporting a more circular economy.
Tobacco and NVP enforcement programme outlined

Aberdeenshire Council's Trading Standards team is to undertake a programme of enforcement action in relation to tobacco and nicotine vaping products (NVP).

Councillors agreed a programme comprising advice and information to those selling tobacco and NVP, including the maintenance of a register of retailers and the prevention of sales to those under 18 years of age.

Over the coming year, Trading Standards officers will also undertake inspection and surveillance of premises from which tobacco and NVP are sold as well as sales via social media channels.

The committee also approved council-operated test-purchasing exercises throughout Aberdeenshire using volunteers who are a minimum of 16 years of age. 

Other matters
• Councillors discussed the North Sea Commission vice-presidency, a review of the LEADER Partnership and an Infrastructure Services Financial Performance Report. 
You can see all the reports to the committee on the Aberdeenshire Council website.
The meeting was webcast and you can view a recording of proceedings online.