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New café, heritage centre and roundabout proposed for Ardersier Port could get green light

By Federica Stefani

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The proposed scheme for the new roundabout from the planning application.
The proposed scheme for the new roundabout from the planning application.

PLANS for the first phase of developments at Ardersier port – including a café, a new roundabout and a bus stop – could get the green light at a council meeting tomorrow.

An application lodged by Ness Planning on behalf of Ardersier Port Ltd in February – which also includes proposals for the construction of a new heritage centre – has been recommended for approval at Wednesday’s meeting of Highland Council’s south planning applications committee.

Approval would be the first step of a phased development for the port, which was recently included in the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport consortium.

The gate at Ardersier Port. Picture: James Mackenzie.
The gate at Ardersier Port. Picture: James Mackenzie.

Future phases would seek the development of a sand processing plant, an oil and gas rig decommissioning zone and an energy hub hydrogen plant.

However, an objection by the area access officer highlighted concerns over the draft access management plan at this stage, stating it “would not safeguard or maximise public access”.

He said: “It fails to justify what I see as disproportionate constraints on public access to the peripheries of the site such as the Spit and access road for nature conservation, health and safety or security purposes. It assumes that fencing the site boundary has also described the extent of land the public should be excluded from the present (plan) without adequately showing support for that position from current guidance, the appropriate authorities or all the relevant legislation.”

Despite this he concluded: “Although public access has been a concern, the design and layout is appropriate to serve the redevelopment of the port, particularly as workforce and industrial land use-related vehicle trip rates increase.”

The committee is also set to consider the proposed battery energy storage system at Blackpark Farm, with a new application seeking a change in wording, in reference to “wind farm”, and replacing it with “energy storage facility”.

The report states that the request is to “avoid misunderstanding” and members are recommended to grant the application.

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