The Highlands and Islands Green Party today called for an urgent public debate to assess the probable impact of developing the A96 corridor on the Highlands and Islands.
Responding to the announcement about plans to develop East Inverness, party campaigns coordinator Neil Hornsby said:
“This latest A96-related planning application for an East Inverness ‘Town centre’ comes hard on the heels of the Tornagrain and the Non-Food Retail development at Inverness Retail and Business Park applications. Yet we have learnt from the Highland Council of their intention to consult the public only later this year about the A96 issue, as part of their Highland-wide Local Development Plan consultation process. This is far too late. It’s no good consulting people after the event. The Highland Council should suspend all consideration of A96-related planning applications until the the outcome of that debate is known.
“Our principal concern is that the addition of a population of 30,000 in the A96 corridor, and so close to Inverness, will drain other parts of the Highlands — and possibly the Islands as well — of population, jobs and infrastructure investment.
“We’re astounded that other local politicians seem so supportive of the A96 development plans. It’s no use their bemoaning the loss of Post Offices and other local services, and then giving the green light to huge, centralising developments.
“We believe it far better to develop existing communities gradually, supported by the steady improvement of infrastructure, and based on approaches aiming to accommodate demands for new housing while minimising the environmental impact of development, including the need to travel. Most existing towns and villages outwith the Inverness area offer opportunities for this style of development.
“The East Inverness area should remain as a green belt for Inverness — either keeping it as farmland, or as parkland and community woodland, including allotments.
“We urge all Community Councils to press the Highland Council to explain to them what impact these vast developments are likely to have on their communities.”