On 27th February, less then two weeks after the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) had formally decided to call in the revised planning application for the 6km new hill road round Newtonmore which was submitted before Xmas (see here), SAC Consulting withdrew it.

Just as with the original application (see here), which was withdrawn in November only to be resubmitted a few days later, almost all the planning papers have been removed from the planning portal (see here).  The only one of any interest is the email which asks SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College SRUC), acting on behalf of the Pitmain Estate whether “the application can be withdrawn from the Cairngorm National Park Authority’s planning records”.  This shows is the CNPA is actively helping developers who have withdrawn applications to expunge the public record.

This puts the public at a considerable disadvantage  when applications are resubmitted (there being no obligation on developers to clearly explain differences to previous applications). It also forces anyone concerned to consider the whole application all over again, a challenge for applications that consist of dozens of papers.  This process of withdrawing and then resubmitting applications appears designed to wear the public down.  In the case of the Pitmain track, while there were a substantial number of objections to the first application when I last looked, there were only a couple to the second.

If there were more, the only way to find out would be  through a Freedom of Information request as all have been withdrawn.  Unlike SAC Consulting no-one from the CNPA asked me if I agreed to have my objection withdrawn but removed my submission to this and the previous application without consultation.  One rule for landowners and developers, another for the public.  The system stinks.

One suspects that third time round SAC consulting – who should be ashamed of themselves – are hoping no-one will be bothered to go through the whole planning rigmarole again, if they see the application that is.  Planning Authorities are not even under an obligation to notify previous objectors when a planning application is re-submitted.  If it was not for the North East Mountain Trust, who have a fantastic team of volunteers who screen all new planning applications in the North East of Scotland, most applications for hill roads would never be brought to the attention of the public.  Instead of charging landowners for the costs of properly notifying the public, those costs are shunted onto the public.

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