Council waits for application verdicts

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WORK could begin on the removal of the gravel bank from the River South Esk at Brechin in September this year (writes Sarah McLean).

In a report to the infrastructure services committee, director Eric Lowson said that the works could take place in September or October should all applications be approved.

Following a committee meeting in March of this year a number of applications were sent out as the council seeked permissions to begin the process of removal.

The local authority are now waiting to hear whether their application to SEPA for the Controlled Activity Regulations (CAR) licence will be given the go ahead.

Mr Lowson said: “The CAR licence application and associated Method Statement have been issued and a decision by SEPA is expected by the end of July 2011.

“Interim discussions with SEPA have taken place, however, no indication of the application success could be ascertained.

“If approved, and subject to other statutory approvals, works to remove the gravel bank could take place in September and October 2011.”

An application has also been sent to the Scottish Government to licence work in a Special Area of Conservation. Mr Lowson said: “Licensing administration is divided between Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage.

“If any act is conducted, deliberately or recklessly, which could result in the disturbance of a protected species or, the obstruction, damage or destruction of their resting or breeding sites a criminal offence may be committed.

“An application has been submitted and we await the decision of a licensing authority.

“If the authority chooses not to approve the licence the gravel bank cannot be removed.”

Town and Country Planning have also received an application. Mr Lowson said: “The planning officers will prepare a committee report on the planning application which should be considered at the Development Standards Committee on August 9 or 30 in order to coincide with anticipated receipt of other statutory decisions.”

The works, which could cost £113,351, would give some benefit to the level of flood protection.

Mr Lowson added: “In engineering and flood prevention terms this level of benefit is considered to be relatively modest.

“The value of this physical benefit needs to be balanced against the cost of undertaking the gravel removal works.”