Gas main concerns spark objection to £6m North Kessock hub plans
Plans for a multimillion-pound electric vehicle charging hub, shop and takeaway have been dealt a blow after the operators of a major gas network objected to them.
SGN has warned that a major high-pressure gas pipeline passes barely 30 metres from the proposed site of the hub – which sits in North Kessock next to the roundabout that motorists approach upon leaving the northbound A9 carriageway.
West Coast Estates (WCE) says its plans to build the hub will result in £6 million worth of investment, create up to 100 jobs, and will provide 16 high-speed electric vehicle (EV) charging points for up to 32 vehicles.
But locals have been vocal in their objections to the plans, arguing they could lead to a dangerous increase in traffic, post road safety risks, remove well-used public open space, and that the competition from the shop could pose a potential risk to the village Post Office on the seafront.
The local community council – Knockbain – has also issued a formal objection, witheringly describing the project as having 'little, if anything' to offer the community. It also questioned the viability of the EV charging hub, claiming that it appeared under-powered to cater to the demands of long-distance A9 motorists, and accused the charge facility of being a "Trojan Horse" to help get the wider plan greenlit.
And now SGN's response as a statutory consultee has also added a further wrinkle – although this objection may yet be removed pending further consultation with WCE over the location of the hub's buildings and charging infrastructure.
In its formal response a representative for SGN said: "I can confirm the presence of a high pressure gas transmission pipeline in the vicinity of the proposed development. The building proximity distance for high pressure gas pipeline A14 is 32 metres."
They continued: "A site meeting must be arranged with us to identify the location of the pipeline and discussions should take place with the developer to discuss which measures would be necessary and could be undertaken in order to safeguard the security of the pipeline.
"In the meantime, please treat this letter as a formal objection to this planning application until such time as a detailed consultation has taken place."
They added: "It should be noted that gas pipes owned by other [gas transmission networks] or privately owned may be present in this area and information regarding such pipes should be obtained from the owners."
WCE's director, Iftikar Mian, speaking previously to the Courier, said: “We are confident the new development will have a positive impact on the local community, and we are thrilled with the level of support we’ve received thus far on our proposals."