The Local Government and Communities Committee publish their Planning Application Processes (Menie Estate) Report Volume 1 today with a second volume of evidence published tomorrow.
The report contains the committee’s conclusions and recommendations on the handling of the calling-in process by the Scottish Government over the application for outline planning permission for a proposed development at the Menie Estate near Balmedie submitted to Aberdeenshire Council on behalf of Trump International Golf Links (Scotland).
Committee convener Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“The committee does not have a remit to consider breaches of the Ministerial code but the committee takes the view that it was extremely unwise of the First Minister to directly facilitate a meeting between the Trump representatives and the Chief Planner.
“The committee also finds the decision making processes of the Cabinet Secretary on such a controversial and complex application lacking in a sufficient audit trail and consideration of the issues at hand.
“In particular, the committee has concerns over such a decision being taken in two five minute phone calls.
“The committee considers that the actions of the Scottish Government in relation to this application have been driven by their reaction to a decision properly taken by Aberdeenshire Council rather than good planning reasons.”
Where committee members have dissented this has been noted in the report.
The Local Government and Communities Committee agreed at its meeting of 19 December 2007 to take evidence on all aspects of the Scottish Government’s handling of the planning application for the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire and to examine the decision-making process of ministers and officials, the legal advice relied upon and the transparency of their actions.