It seems a wee bit disingenuous of Paul Featherstone, writing on the Gauldrons Facebook page, not to identify himself as the boss at the existing Marine Harvest facility. Nothing wrong with that, except that it gives him a very large axe to grind. His views are not exactly impartial.
Obviously he's got every right to make the argument for the development to the best of his ability. The pity is that he has gone into the sort of threats - all the existing jobs will be lost as well as not getting the 10 new ones - that are simply going to lead to a hardening of attitudes on the anti- side, quite apart from the stress and concern created among his existing workforce. Sadly, this is very much the sort of approach often taken by aggressive multi-nationals.
As I said in an earlier post, I wasn't that concerned about what was proposed until I saw in the Courier the sheer size of the new factory (for that's what it is). Surely it's possible to look at scaling it back, reducing it in size, or possibly even siting it elsewhere within the Lossit area? There is room for dialogue on all these possibilities. Some mitigation has to be possible. But we're straight into "It has to be this and it has to be here or we're offski". Shame.
The basic point that troubles me is that the area where Marine Harvest want to put this monstrosity is one in which the planning guidelines specifically prohibit this kind of development. Why then are Marine Harvest pushing ahead? If you or I wanted to build so much as a house there we would be refused planning permission. We would know that, and for that reason we wouldn't make the application. So what makes it any different for Marine Harvest?
I'm told that while the planning officials will almost certainly oppose the proposals, elected member can over-rule them, and one has already said he will. This raises another interesting point. If it's refused, and Marine Harvest appeal, the costs to the Council would be met by the Council. If these additional costs were incurred because elected members voted down the advice of their officials, then they would fall to be paid by the elected members who voted that way if the objectors then appealed. This is known as 'surcharging'. I was threatened with it as a councillor many years ago when I proposed freezing Council house rents in defiance of the Heath government's Rent Act. I'm fairly certain the surcharge rules would come into play in terms of the scenario I've outlined.
Putting that aside for the time being, let's hope that Marine Harvest will draw back from the confrontational approach Mr Featherstone has taken. There's no point having public 'consultation' unless it involves dialogue, rather than just telling us what is going to happen.