IT IS good news for the thousands who have made a stand against the controversial plans in recent months.
But for developers of two proposed high-velocity shooting ranges in Eskdalemuir, both just a few miles from Europe’s oldest Tibetan centre at Kagyu Samye Ling monastery, it means gaining planning permission will be more a more laborious process than first thought.
Last week letters sent from Dumfries and Galloway Council informed agents working on behalf of land owners at Clerkhill and Over Cassock that their applications – both submitted last year – will have to be withdrawn and resubmitted as major ones.
Scottish Government planning regulations require any site exceeding two hectares in size seeking a change of use to apply as a major development.
And with this comes the opportunity for greater scrutiny over the plans – which has been demanded by more than 20,000 people who signed an online petition urging the council to hold official public consultations.
In both letters, Robert Duncan, team leader of major developments with Dumfries and Galloway Council, wrote: “A number of representations were received to this application covering a range of material considerations, including the council’s decision to accept this as a ‘local’ development.”
He added that in the interests of clarity, the council sought “independent legal advice” on the matter, which concluded that “the whole site contained within the fenced area should be considered as the application site, rather than that covered by the physical development”.
Mr Duncan continued: “On that basis, the actual application site is in excess of two hectares and would therefore fall under the ‘major’ development category in terms of the hierarchy of development regulations. Applications for ‘major’ development are statutorily required to have been preceded by a Proposal of Application Notice submitted at least 12 weeks prior to the submission of an application for planning permission. During this time, a preapplication consultation (PAC) exercise with the public must be undertaken.”
He therefore added that the council considers both applications invalid as none of these requirements were met and said that developers can resubmit plans “only after all the necessary procedures for a ‘major’ development have been completed”.
Reacting to the news, Hanna Casement, who started the change.org petition, said: “This does not mean that we have won the battle, but it does mean there has to be a public consultation, which was one of our objectives for the petition. We still have a long way to go but this is still good news.”
Agents working on behalf of developers did not wish to comment.