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Scrapyard at Castletown gets go-ahead for five years

By Gordon Calder

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A CAITHNESS businessman has been given planning permission for a scrapyard on the outskirts of Castletown – but only for five years.

James Riddell, who lives in Thurso, was granted a retrospective part change of use of an existing garage at the Old Mossy quarry for the facility but the approval is only until June 15, 2024.

Highland Council decided to impose the condition to "retain effective control over future development" and to ensure the site is "carefully managed" and does not result in "over-development or an adverse impact on the amenity of the area". The nearest residential properties are around 220 metres away.

By September, a landscaping bund has to be erected on the northern and eastern boundaries of the site and a two-metre timber boarded fence on the southern boundary.

Operations at the scrapyard will only be allowed between 8am and 7pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.

A report which was before the north planning applications committee said Mr Riddell wanted the change of use to allow the storage of scrap metals, amounting to 740 tons a year, comprising ferrous and non-ferrous metal. The site comprises an existing business operation including a large workshop and yard areas. Infrastructure already exists at present including access and drainage.

In 2016, the council became aware open areas around the garage workshop were being used for storage of scrap metal after vehicles were broken up. "This is contrary to the terms of the planning permission granted for the garage in 1989 which specifically states ‘no open storage of materials shall be permitted on site’. As such the council instigated enforcement proceedings and this application was submitted following successful action," the report stated.

Brenda Herrick: best we could have hoped for.
Brenda Herrick: best we could have hoped for.

Objectors, including Castletown and District Community Council, claimed the site has a risk of flooding which has not been addressed. Those against the development also pointed out there are issues with leaked oil in field drains.

In addition, they claimed:

  • Scrap was being stored without the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) approval.
  • The scrapyard is unsightly, noisy and there is "a high risk of pollution".

Council officials recommended approving the application retrospectively.

The report added: "It is acknowledged that the scrapyard... has been in place for a number of years which has impacted on local residents by its visual appearance and associated noise. This application, however, now seeks to regularise the planning position but has also provided an opportunity to ensure appropriate mitigation measures are put in place to alleviate such concerns as well as to address the concerns of Sepa.

"Given the nature of the development, it is considered that a temporary consent of five years is appropriate to allow the situation to be monitored to ensure compliance and the proposal does not adversely impact on neighbours to their detriment. Should the consent not be renewed, the scrapyard area should be removed and the land reinstated."

Castletown community councillor Brenda Herrick said: "I think this is the best we could hope for and it will be up to local residents to ensure that he [Mr Riddell] complies with all conditions."

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