All members of Falkirk Council want to stop a petrochemical giant’s plans to permanently close a public road.
At a special meeting of the council this afternoon it was one of those rare occasion when councillors from all parties were in total agreement over an issue – that issue being Ineos and its proposals to shut a section of Grangemouth’s Bo’ness Road.
Ineos initially applied to the council in January for planning permission to shut a section of A904 Bo’ness Road and erect gatehouses. However, due to non-determination within the allotted time period, the firm submitted an appeal to Scottish ministers at the end of July and the decision now rests with them.
Ineos has always claimed the road closure would improve security at the site and also lead to long term economic benefits for the town and its residents.
However, Falkirk Council members said the plans as they stand went against the guidance laid down in the National Planning Framework because it would have an adverse impact on residents.
Councillor Dennis Goldie said: “It’s very rare there is unanimity within the council, but we have to say to Ineos, while we recognise their contribution and their value to Grangemouth and the district, enough is enough – people can only take so much.”
Councillors felt Ineos had not demonstrated the need for the road to be closed and the views of Falkirk Council objecting to the closure will now be passed to the Scottish Government’s Plan and Environmental Appeals Division as the local authority’s official stance on the plans.
Grangemouth Councillor Robert Spears said: “I would ask that we keep this road open and keep my town alive.”
Councillor David Alexander, planning committee convener, said: “This has been a difficult process. Ineos are a valuable member of the family of businesses in Falkirk District so therefore we have shared interests.
“Equally, we have a responsibility to the general public and residents of Grangemouth and Bo’ness. I would hope we can go back round the table with Ineos and come up with ways to make the site secure without the closure of Bo’ness Road.”
Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn agreed: “We want to work with industry and see investment and jobs, but we also need to take the views of the community into account.
“Hopefully we can reach a compromise which will suit everyone. There is clearly a desire to keep the Bo’ness Road open and the mitigation Ineos put forward is not sufficient to meet the needs of the area.”
The council also stated a preference for the matter to go to a public hearing – a forum Ineos also wants the matter to ne heard in.