Scottish ministers failed to give ‘intelligible reasons’ for approving North Lanarkshire rail freight terminal

The Mossend site
The Mossend site

Scottish ministers failed to give “proper, adequate and intelligible reasons” for granting plans to build a rail freight super-hub on greenbelt land in North Lanarkshire against the wishes of the local authority.

Judges in the Court of Session said ministers had “largely ignored” concerns their own independent reporter brought to them in relation to the proposed Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP), to be located in Bellshill.

Lord Drummond YoungLady Smith and Lady Paton said the decision of the ministers to give the scheme the green light, which ran contrary to the reporter’s opinion, “does not meet the standard of intelligibility required”.

They noted that “the rather cursory statement that loss of green belt would be offset to some extent by the proposed community green network and woodland… near an adequate response”.

The ruling comes in the wake of an appeal by North Lanarkshire Council, which had rejected the plans only for ministers to uphold an appeal by developers PD Stirling in August last year.

James Coyle, convener of planning and transportation at the council, said the court had vindicated the council’s decision.

He added: “The Scottish Government has the right to appeal. I certainly hope they do not waste any further public money in doing so.”

Local Labour councillor Frank McNally said: “This is a damning indictment of the Scottish Government’s actions in overturning the decision of the council and vindicates those who fought to take it to court.

“I urge ministers to listen to the views of local people, North Lanarkshire Council, their own Reporter and the Courts and end this debacle once and for all.”

Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Scottish ministers note the Court’s Opinion and will now carefully consider it and its implications.”

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