RENFREWSHIRE Council is set to back a controversial hydro station in Lochwinnoch despite growing pressure from the local community.

Planning chiefs are set to decide on the future of plans by Ashrona Power Systems Ltd (APSL) to construct a dam and pipeline upstream leading to a power station that would be built next to Lochwinnoch Cemetery.

The pipe is set to be 4.5km-long and begin just to the south-east of the visitors centre at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park.

READ MORE: Petition launched against Lochwinnoch hydro station on River Calder

Villagers, park users, and now a local councillor are calling on the application to be dumped when it is considered at Tuesday's Communities, Housing & Planning Policy Board.

However, council papers seen by The Gazette reveal planning chiefs plan to recommend councillors pass the project subject to conditions.

It would then be up to the 15 councillors on the board to decide whether the application is approved or not. 

The Gazette: The hydro station is set to be built next to Lochwinnoch Cemetery The hydro station is set to be built next to Lochwinnoch Cemetery

A petition, launched just last week, by Not the Calder smashed its original target of securing 200 signatures against the plans and organisers hope to secure 500 objections before the crucial vote.

Additionally, 82 comments were submitted to the council during the planning consultation stage and 80 either objected or raised concerns about the application. The Lochwinnoch Community Council also submitted a formal objection.

Campaigners say they want to see the 'unspoilt' nature protected and believe it is 'grossly inappropriate' to build the station next to the local cemetery and woodland burial ground.

One of the group's members, Scott Queen, told The Gazette that he feels the concerns of residents are not being listened to by Renfrewshire Council.

He added: "We feel we are not being listened to and not being taken seriously by the council.

"There has been no meaningful consultation with villagers and residents next to the river and the company and council seem to be acting on the presumption that the application will be accepted.

"We don't know if there is anything we can do if the plans are passed on Tuesday, but we will continue to fight them in some way."

The Gazette: Cllr Andy Doig Cllr Andy Doig

The residents' fight is being backed by local councillor Andy Doig, who has now taken the extraordinary step of objecting to the proposals despite being a member of the planning board.

Cllr Doig has written to Fraser Carlin, Renfrewshire Council's head of planning, to lodge his formal objection in advance of the meeting.

The Independent Cllr told The Gazette: "As a member of the Clyde Muirshiel Park Authority, I find it indefensible that, contrary to established practice and precedence, that neither the Consultative Forum nor the Joint Board per se, was allowed to comment on the application.

"On that basis I believe the application should be deferred to a future board to allow such comment to take place."

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “The application has been through the proper process. All statutory consultations have now been received and there is no reason for the application not to be considered at the upcoming meeting.

“As with all applications, all representations for and against the application have been carefully considered and detailed responses to each point have been summarised in the report going to the board, along with officers’ reasons for recommending the application be approved.

READ MORE: Campaigners hope people power can sink plans for Renfrewshire hydro station

“Statutory consultees such as SEPA and Scottish Natural Heritage have not objected to the proposal.

“Renfrewshire Council agree that Clyde Muirshiel Park is one of our most important visitor attractions but officers are of the view this application will not have a significant impact on the park. It is also considered that noise impact on the cemetery will be negligible.”

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