Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Highland Council planning officials recommend refusal of another supermarket

This time it is in Portree (Skye) and the supermarket operator is Tesco.

There seems to be a growing pattern of Highland Council recommending refusal of planning permission for new supermarkets on the basis that "the proposal would affect existing businesses"; one can't help wondering whether lobbyists on behalf of 'existing businesses' have rather too much influence; also perhaps Inverness business/politcal interests have a long-term interest in keeping the rest of the vast Highland Council region economically dependent on Inverness. I am no particular lover of Tesco, or indeed any other supermarket operator, but I expect many people on Skye make weekly or monthly trips to Inverness to do a massive shopping at Tesco or Morrison's there and to benefit from the lower prices available there than in outlets nearer to home.

The new Skye bridge and the subsequent removal of the toll charge will undoubtedly have made it easier for people to visit Skye, but it also makes it a lot easier and cheaper for people who live there to get off the island. We are constantly being told that energy costs are rising, and indeed the evidence is pretty clear. Also that we must try to live 'greener'. I would have thought that in this context planners should be encouraging the development of cost-effective businesses nearer to where people live to reduce the need for regular lengthy car journeys. Perhaps the guidelines under which planning officials operate need to be updated to take account of the world we now live in - one where energy is no longer cheap and plentiful, but one in which such a scarce resource must be husbanded carefully.

I hope that if the people of Skye want this new Tesco outlet in Portree they will make their views known loud and clear to their local councillors so that a planning decision is taken based upon what they want, rather than according to the vested interests of a small number of local businesses. This is what happened in Nairn recently.

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