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An illegal development next to a nature reserve was taken down by council enforcement staff yesterday

Press release   •   Jul 07, 2017 07:27 BST

Moray Council JCB removing the rubble hard standing from the site

Enforcement officers took action to remove an unauthorised development next to a local nature reserve yesterday.

The development, a large fenced-off yard with a rubble hardstanding alongside the Findhorn to Kinloss road, was created without planning consent and described as 'unsightly' by a government inspector. It was being used to store building materials, machinery and various storage containers.

The action follows a three-year saga over the controversial site.

A retrospective planning application was submitted in November 2015, but was refused consent in January 2016 on the grounds that the site is located within the Findhorn Bay Coastal Protection Zone, and on road safety issues.

The decision was appealed by the applicants, Seaview Caravan Park, but the refusal was upheld by the council’s own Local Review Body at a hearing in May.

An enforcement notice was served and appealed by the owners to the Scottish Government’s Planning & Appeals Division (DPEA). This was also dismissed in December 2016.

Describing the compound as ‘unsightly’, the DPEA’s appointed Reporter, Chris Norman, said: “The discontinuation of the land for storage purposes, the removal of the unsightly hardstanding and the items stored upon it, and the removal of the boundary fence surrounding the unlawful use are all necessary to protect the appearance of the undeveloped coastal landscape and abate the injury to amenity caused to the locally designated area”.

Following the failure of protracted negotiations by the council with the applicants to remove the compound and abide by the refusal decision, yesterday morning staff from the council’s planning enforcement team and Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) arrived on site to remove the development.

Although the applicants had taken the fence down the day before, a council JCB was required to dig up the hard standing and rubble base to return the site to its original condition.

A spokesman for Moray Council said that compliance with planning law was essential to maintain a balance between the built environment and Moray’s natural landscape.

“Taking enforcement action is always a last resort for the council, but we will not shy away from using it where necessary.”

Moray Council area stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Forres in the west. The council and its 4,500 employees respond to the needs of 96,070 residents in this beautiful part of Scotland, which nestles between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live.

Headquartered in  Elgin, the administrative capital of Moray.