Developers appeal Perth and Kinross Council direction to provide environmental assessment for housing scheme

A developer with designs to build around 160 new homes in Kinross has appealed a council direction to provide an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the dismay of a councillor concerned about the potential impact on Loch Leven.

It emerged this week Miller Homes has asked Scottish ministers to overrule a request from Perth and Kinross Council to supply an EIA to assure staff its plans to form the new homes on land north of Davies Park will not have a significant impact on the environment.

Kinross-shire councillor Willie Robertson, who recently wrote to Scotland’s environment minister with concerns about the amount of raw sewage already being discharged into Loch Leven when existing sewerage systems are overloaded, said this week he was “very disappointed” the company had opted to challenge the council’s instructions.

Documents published online show the company asked the local authority for a screening opinion regarding its proposed development through property consultancy Montagu Evans in July this year and PKC provided their opinion in September.

The council decided it required an EIA as it considers the scheme would be “out of scale” with the existing environment and lead to “further consequential development” which could have “a significant impact” on the environment.

The local authority also judged the cumulative impact of the scheme and other relatively new nearby developments like Lathro Park could be “potentially significant” because of their combined scale.

In addition PKC identified “potential capacity issues” at wastewater treatment works beside Loch Leven where it admitted water quality problems have existed “for many years”.

The local authority said it considered more development in the area would not have a “significant” impact on the loch, however, as long as it is connected to existing public sewerage systems.

The judgement comes despite SEPA admitting earlier this year in a response to a complaint from councillor Robertson that sewage will likely continue to be discharged into Loch Leven, which is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under European legislation, as long as the existing historic sewer network remains in place.

The body explained: “[Due] to the historic design of sewers taking both surface water and foul water discharges into the main sewer pipeline … during periods of heavy rainfall the diversion of surface water into the sewer leads to the amount of effluent in the sewer exceeding the capacity of the sewer.

“Therefore, it needs to discharge quickly either via emergency overflow to the environment or [it] will back up the pipework and cause sewer flooding inside residential and industrial properties.

“Obviously, your constituents would not appreciate their homes being flooded with sewage.

“Therefore, until the entire historic sewer network is replaced, separating out the foul water from the surface water, the only other alternative is discharge to the environment during periods of heavy rainfall.”

Montagu Evans has now told the government on Miller Homes’ behalf the company disagrees with the council’s direction to provide an EIA, drawing particular attention to its comments regarding Loch Leven.

“Respectfully, Miller Homes do not agree with the council’s decision that an EIA is required for this proposed development,” Montagu Evans said in a document sent to the government by email. “Accordingly, we formally request a screening direction from Scottish ministers.

“Miller Homes is of the view that the proposed development will not have significant effects on the environment, and so there is no need for an EIA.”

On the subject of Loch Leven and local drainage the consultancy added: “Drainage proposals will be carefully designed to ensure there is no impact on the Loch Leven SPA.

“It is noted that the council’s EIA screening opinion confirms the development is not considered to result in significant impact if connected to public sewerage works.”

Cllr Robertson commented: “I am very disappointed that Miller Homes is appealing the council’s request for an EIA.

“PKC, like most people locally, is only too aware of the water quality problems in Loch Leven and is clearly trying to adopt a cautious approach.

“We have a combined sewage system in Kinross which handles both flood water and household waste.

“It is already struggling and Scottish Water is having to divert raw sewage into Loch Leven during periods of heavy rain.

“This situation can’t go on. We must be confident that any new large housing development in the Loch Leven catchment won’t make a bad situation even worse.”

A spokesperson for Miller Homes commented: “In this case, we do not believe the site merits the need for a full EIA (usually reserved for larger developments).

“By appealing we are simply seeking clarity on this and what level of environmental assessment over and above the usual array of technical reports is required to support our application.”

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