We have received a report that a complaint has been made to the Planning authority about an allegedly unauthorized change to the design of the Pump House in contravention of the planning consent granted.
Basically, in the original drawings of the Pump House, the louvre openings were located at the back of the building, pointing away from the residential buildings. Instead the building has been constructed with the openings on the side of the building, partially pointing towards Inveronich. One of the main concerns for residents has always been sound pollution, and moving these vents would appear likely to increase the risk that noise from the turbine would be audible at Inveronich. As well as imposing strict noise constraints, Planning laid down a specific condition in their consent document that the Pumphouse be reoriented so that all “..access doors and vents face away from the residential buildings..” and revised drawings, submitted and approved, show the louvres at the back of the building, pointing away from the residential buildings. After a complaint to Hydro Plan, a response was received as follows:-
“The louvres have been moved from the back face of the building to the gable end in order to accommodate a Ring Main Unit (RMU), which is a recent requirement from SSE for schemes connecting to the grid at 11kV (and something that we hadn’t considered or made space for in the original design).
Unfortunately with the pigging chamber, transformer and now the RMU, this back face is completely full and there is no room for the louvres, which must be low down to create airflow. Therefore these have been relocated to the gable end of the building. With regards to noise I can assure you that we are fully aware of the requirements of the planning consent and will ensure that the scheme is operated within the specified noise parameters.”
It would appear that this design alteration may have been made with out notification or consent by the Planning Authority, however their view appears to be that provided the conditions with regard to noise levels are met, the developer will not be required to move the louvres.
I’m not an expert on planning law, but it seems odd to me that the developer can chop and change the plans about with impunity like this. Regardless, the point has been made that, as it is clear to all concerned that the noise constraints are the one thing that cannot be set to one side, it will be unfortunate for both the developer and anyone hoping to receive any money from this scheme if modifications to the original design cause excess noise which then delays it from going in to operation. This is particularly relevant considering the extremely short timescale for this to happen in (it must be in production by 14th Sept) due to the developer’s delay in starting.
On a different subject, more of the tail race has been dug out and at the moment there is a gaping channel in the river bank.