MSP Kevin Stewart went against Planning and Environmental Appeals Division recommendations not to grant the application to allow Ineos to construct two security gatehouses and security fencing on a section of Bo’ness Road – meaning it has allowed the company to move a step closer towards its ultimate goal of permanently closing off the road.
Ineos has made no secret about its desire to shut the section of the A904 road – which runs through the heart of the site – and erect the gatehouses in order to improve safety at the site as it bids to attract new firms to call the area home.
Ministers stated economic factors and security were two of the main reasons they decided to grant permission.
Councillor Joan Coombes, who lives in Grangemouth, was disappointed with the decision to uphold the appeal.
She said: “Speaking not at a councillor, but as a resident, I believe ministers have put pounds before people with this decision. I am devastated even though all Falkirk Councillors and over 5000 residents objected – Kevin Stewart, minister for planning, has still disagreed with the professional judgement of the reporters who held a public inquiry last year.”
The appeal was considered by a public inquiry which took place on February 27, 2018 and a hearing which took place on March 14, 2018 by appointed reporters Allison Coard and Elspeth Cook.
The decision notice states: “The Reporters’ conclude other material planning considerations do not override the proposal’s failure to adopt a masterplan approach to the development.
“Ministers do not agree. There are overriding issues of site safety and security present here, which means application is supported. Ministers consider the economic and security justification for the gates, the support offered through the development plan and the National Planning Framework are material considerations which carry significant weight.
“Having considered all relevant factors, the planning balance in this case is to be found with the approval of the application. Scottish Ministers note for the Bo’ness Road to be closed to the public will require further procedure, in the form of a stopping up order.
“It will be for that process to determine whether the road should be closed.”