As a courtesy to the council’s planning chairman, councillor Frank Robertson, I gave him notice on Monday of this week that I wished to ask questions at Tuesday’s planning meeting about the deliberate and serial breaches of planning permission by Total Exploration and Production UK Ltd at Sullom Voe, including erecting a flare stack, laying a rock flare blanket and running heavy construction traffic over public roads without planning permission.
As Mr Robertson has ruled that only members of the planning committee may ask questions at the meeting, and ignored my attempt to contribute to the discussion, I am publishing my questions in order that the public may know of my concerns, which I believe are shared by other council members who are not members of the planning committee.
The questions I was prevented from asking at the meeting are as follows:
• What monitoring did the council carry out to ensure compliance with the conditions imposed on Total’s permission to construct the gas plant at Sullom Voe?
• Do Total’s managers understand that they are not operating in an uninhabited desert, that the rule of law applies in Shetland and that they cannot treat the local authority with arrogance and contempt?
• Was there a bond posted before work began, to cover all and any potential costs of damage to the council’s roads? If not, why not? Who is responsible for this elementary oversight?
• Can the council now insist on the developer depositing in a suspense account a sum sufficient to cover all potential costs of damage arising from Total’s construction works?
• The chairman of the planning committee [on Tuesday] described the work of the planning section as “first class”. In that case, why was this deplorable situation allowed to develop?
• The report to the committee suggests that Total’s actions are “disappointing”. Would “disgraceful” perhaps be a better word?