IT is one of Scotland’s best-loved tourist spots with a long spiritual history stretching back to the sixth century.
Located off the Ayrshire coast, Holy Isle is now home to a community of Buddhist monks, as well as local wildlife.
However, a planning application to erect five wind turbines on the picturesque island, just off Arran, has led to a not-so-Zen outcry from the local community.
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A total of 89 objectors lodged complaints about the proposal amid fears it will ruin the relatively unspoiled landscape of the island and have an impact upon wildlife.
However, North Ayrshire Council approved the application using its delegated authority, which means the council’s planning department made the decision instead of it being passed to the planning committee.
While the council claims this process was allowed due to the “small scale” of the application, local resident John Campbell, of Lamlash, claims it was a “very bad error of judgment” which has prompted anger and suspicion.
The retired chemist, 78, said: “Despite the large-scale opposition, the council obviously decided the they were going to consider this application in house when the scheme of delegation indicates that with that scale of objections it should have been put before the planning committee.
“They should have referred the final decision to the planning committee then there would have been a proper hearing, giving objectors the opportunity to present their views and watch the meeting publicly. There is now a lot of anger about this decision and questions about why it was taken. There are lots of conspiracy theories going around, and this is exactly the point – if you make an open decision then you avoid all this criticism.”
The Samye Ling monks who own the island want to build the turbines in a bid to become as self-sufficient as possible and reduce their community’s environmental impact.
However, residents on Arran claim the turbines will damage the landscape and diminish the value of the island for residents and visitors. bjectors include Arran Community Council and Arran Civic Trust, as well as local MSP Kenneth Gibson and MP Patricia Gibson.
Mr Campbell said: “The value of Holy Island as a relatively unspoiled, valuable landscape for both the community of Arran and visitors is very significant.
“It’s absolutely astonishing that North Ayrshire Council seems to have gone against the express wishes of a large number of the community.”
Arran Community Council say they are now looking at what options are open to them to have the decision reviewed.
A council spokesman said: “Due to its small scale, this application was defined in statutory regulations as a ‘local’ application for which officers have delegated authority to make a decision.
“This is not unusual as the majority of planning applications are determined this way and this practice is in line with the council’s agreed procedures.”