Gordon Mann - who is also a former director of planning and chairman of the local tourism body Destination Dumfries & Galloway - said that there was "clearly no substance" to the explanations by Councillor Archie Dryburgh as to why he decided to defy guidance by local planning officials and lead a motion to withdraw consent for Scotland's first purpose-built large-scale modular data centre at Johnstone Bank, Ecclefechan.
Mann said: "The councillors had to struggle to put together a form of words that made it look like they had a proper reason for refusal. I think they had to try that two to three times, and they still didn't come up with something that had any validity in planning terms.
"The promoters may appeal, but sadly that takes time, and it's time that should be being spent putting together what is obviously a complex package of finance technology with their clients. I would expect they would win, and if I was in their position I would ask the reporter to ask for the award of costs against the council."
Mann added: "We are absolutely appalled by what has happened. Not just because of this project itself, which is hugely important to a local economy that is struggling to participate in the recovery, but because it sends out the message that Dumfries and Galloway is closed for business."
Dryburgh, a Unite official at the nearby Magnox Chapelcross power station who is also the Labour Party candidate to fight the Dumfries-shire, Clydesdale and Tweedsdale seat currently held by Conservative MP David Mundell, also faced charges of inconsistency last week, after voting to approve another, less advanced data centre scheme at Peelhouses near Lockerbie. This site - the successor to a project promoted by the now-defunct housebuilder R&D - sailed through an identical planning process less than three weeks after Johnstone Bank was rejected.
Dryburgh also raised eyebrows by suggesting that Johnstone Bank had been rejected as it was unpopular locally and was viewed negatively in a Scottish Enterprise report.
In fact, the amount of local objectors is not a material consideration in applications to extend existing permissions, and the Scottish Enterprise report was highly favourable to Johnstone Bank, giving it an overall score of 57% for environmental, security, power and fibre connectivity. This endorsement came after a five-month study by consultancy hurleypalmerflatt, which rated it the second best site in Scotland for the siting of "big data".
Dryburgh was quoted by the local Annandale Herald newspaper as saying: "The difference [with Peelhouses] is the amount of objections to the one at Johnstone Bank, plus a report that Scottish Enterprise's consultants did that said Johnstone Bank had very little audit and was more of a desktop exercise."
The Peelhouses site, which is traversed by Shell UK's northwestern ethylene pipeline, is not being promoted by Scottish Enterprise, and was either not considered by hurleypalmerflatt, or was rejected as a viable and secure site for data.
And an earlier report, commissioned in 2008 by Scottish Enterprise from consultant BroadGroup, clearly identified the Johnstone Bank site as the more viable site, describing Peelhouses as "a non-starter for a data centre user" as the "high housing element" of the plan "creates concerns that data centres are not the main focus of the scheme".
Gordon Mann also criticised Scottish Enterprise for not doing more to promote the strategic importance of the Johnstone Bank site, and not actively working to secure Scotia Global's investment, as local government economic agencies in England are now understood to be doing.
"I understand that Scottish Enterprise has access to very good information and it would have been very helpful if that information had been in the public domain," he said. "Once the planning consent [for Johnstone Bank] was granted [three years previously], one would have expected them to be promoting the site actively and really talking up the huge advantages this area has, in the way that public bodies in Cumbria are doing.
"There is some suggestion that they [Cumbria County Council] are working hard to secure alternative sites and if I was in their position that's exactly what I would be doing. This is mobile technology that can be sited anywhere."
Scotia Global has claimed the project is worth £24 million for local builders and £16m for civil engineers preparing the site, plus it would create 240 highly skilled technology jobs commanding salaries of around £75,000, along with 15 security and maintenance positions.
Dryburgh was not available for comment, citing pressure of council work.