Highland Council: don't risk the wildlife of the Ness with concrete "public art"

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The Highland Council, without even discussing the matter at a planning committee meeting, has just approved plans which will change an almost unspoilt stretch of the River Ness where a range wildlife - including some protected species including otters and bats - currently live and feed.

The Council wants to install a large "public art" installation, which looks uncannily like a wall and which will be made of reinforced concrete, on the river bank close to the Fishermen's Hut. A smaller installation is to go on the Ness Islands on the opposite bank.

No environmental impact assessment has been carried out to find out about the wildlife living there or how they might be affected. No-one has looked at the significance of wild plants and trees currently there and due to be removed. No-one has looked at the the possible impact of sinking 10m deep reinforced concrete piles into the riverbank in terms of possible effects on the quality of river water. 

Instead, officials have decided that no environmental assessment is needed, and have treated the application as a delegated matter, meaning that it doesn't have to be discussed in public at a planning committee meeting.

The existing Fishermen's Hut will have to be removed to make way; apparently the cost of replacing it is put at £50,000. Who will pay for the replacement is not clear.

No consultation has ever taken place in Ballifeary (the area in which the installations are to be located) about what should be created or where it should go.

Is this the way to make decisions affecting precious wild space and wildlife on the River Ness?  Is this the way to spend Inverness Common Good and other public money?

If you are concerned about how this matter has been handled by the Highland Council, and think that the application should be discussed openly and publicly by the City of Inverness and Area Planning Committee, with all the necessary impact information available, please sign this petition.