Wood development vetoed

COUNCILLORS have expressed their disappointment that Caldhame Wood, Luthermuir has been ruled out for housing development by reporters examining Aberdeenshire’s Local Development plan.

The Local Development Plan was discussed by Councillors at the Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee this week.

While the Reporters supported most of the Area Committee’s suggestions, modifications were made to the development plan in Luthermuir which saw the removal of Caldhame Wood as a site for development.

Councillors were “disappointed” by this change, one councillor said: “This would have sorted out a lot of problems that Luthermuir has, but they are now saying it is an established woodland.”

In removing the site at Caldhame Wood from the plan the reporters have substituted two new sites in Luthermuir as possibilities for development within the village.

The new sites, known as sites K31 and K33, are at The Chapel and two fields which currently make up the Glebe of the local Parish Church.

In a report to the area committee the decision to remove the Caldhame Wood site was justified.

The report said: “The removal of site M1 (Caldhame Wood) is fundamentally based on its designation as ‘long established woodland of plantation origin’ on Scottish National Heritage’s (SNH) Ancient Woodland Inventory. Both Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) and the Scottish Government’s ‘Control of Woodland Removal’ document have a strong presumption against removing semi-natural woodland.”

The report also describes the woodland as a “diverse wildlife community” and cites that it contains a UK priority species (red squirrels) and a European Protected Species (Pipstrelle Bats).

Councillors were discussing the recommendations made by the reporters and were deciding if they wished to object to any of the modifications. There was some discussion about the possibility of objecting to the Luthermuir recommendation, however it was decided that their objection did not meet the criteria for change.

At the meeting, Councillors approved the reporters recommendations for the Local Development Plan.