Distillery near Bathgate appeals rejection of plans

The owners of the Glen Turner distillery near Bathgate have lodged an appeal against a rejection of its ambitious expansion plans.

By Stuart Sommerville
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 12:42 pm
The Glen Turner distillery near Bathgate.
The Glen Turner distillery near Bathgate.

The distiller, which is owned by a French drinks manufacturer, had plans refused for a huge expansion of the site at Starlaw. It wanted to build over a neighbouring 11 acre field, adding 21 new maturation warehouses.

West Lothian Council’s planning committee knocked back the proposal over fears about the spread of a “polluting” black fungus to surrounding homes.

Glen Turner is part of the firm La Martiniquaise which blends Label 5, one of France’s biggest selling whiskies. It described the plan as “a logical and sustainable development”.

Planning officials had also backed the proposed expansion – but councillors voted to refuse the application in August after local residents voiced fears about the spread of a black fungus commonly found on homes and vegetation near distilleries.

The Scotch Whisky Association confirmed “independent research has found complex combinations of naturally occurring microflora within environmental blackening at locations across the UK”. And while the fungus – Baudoinia compniacensis – has no known side-effects, the distillery regularly scrubs down its buildings.

Glen Turner said it would consider widening a proposed clean-up zone to include surrounding communities, if there was evidence of fungus spread – leading one councillor to ask whether it was possible to steam-clean trees.

While only three jobs would be created initially, with the proposal creating at most 15 jobs in the local area, planners were in favour of the proposals.

A report said: “There is a strong business/economic case for the expansion… of the operation. The proposal will create high value jobs and will reduce wider carbon emissions of locating such facilities elsewhere.”

The plan was met with 48 objections, including from surrounding community councils; Seafield, Bathgate and Eliburn. They pointed out that it snubbed the local development plan and greenbelt protection.

A notice of appeal was lodged last week.