Monday, 3 November 2008

Didn't see that one coming

No, surely not! That can't be true, can it? John Swinney's approved Donald Trump's golf and housing development? Never!

Yup, the world's least surprising political decision has been made, with the SNP government giving the go-ahead for the controversial development in Aberdeenshire.

This decision was pretty much inevitable from the moment the Gnats decided to call it in after the planning committee on Aberdeenshire Council had voted, on the chairman's casting vote, to reject the application on the grounds of the potential environmental damage it would cause, especially to the sand dunes on the Menie Estate.

Anyone who's heard then planning committee chairman Martin Ford explain his decision to vote against the application will be aware that nobody had any complaints about the procedure prior to the Trump plan being rejected. It was therefore clear that by calling in the application in the wake of it being rejected, the Gnats were doing so because the 'wrong' decision had been made. Obviously, a public inquiry was held, but does anyone think the inquiry was in any way likely to recommend refusal of the plan?

Today's decision is therefore the inevitable culmination of that process. And it means that any big developer waving the cash about can feel pretty confident that the Gnats will roll over and approve a development, regardless of any adverse impacts it might have. And that is worrying for the integrity of Scotland's planning process.

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