Scottish Ministers have called in a planning appeal by Ineos to close off a public road but they are now being called on to allow Falkirk Council to make the final decision.
Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald welcomed Scottish ministers to calling in the planning appeal, which deals with an application to close off a section of the Bo’ness Road which runs through the heart of the Ineos operation in Grangemouth.
Now Scottish ministers, who recently backed a ban on fracking, will determine the planning application rather than the government appointed reporter – although the reporter will still submit a recommendation to ministers.
However, Mr MacDonald wants the ministers to hand back the final decision making responsibility to Falkirk Council.
He said: “It is within the gift of Scottish government ministers to leave the final decision on this planning application with Falkirk Council. Despite the appeal being lodged by Ineos due to the failure by Falkirk Council to reach a decision on time I feel it is important that the final decision is taken locally.
“Ideally, Scottish ministers should send the planning application back to Falkirk Council for determination to allow the final decision to be taken as locally as possible. Local democracy must prevail.”
At a special meeting on September 15, all members of the council – across all parties – agreed to oppose the plan to close the 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.
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.