HL Deb 27 November 1985 vol 468 cc964-5WA
Lord Melchett

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What expert advice was sought when consideration was given to the planning application to extract peat from Duich Moss (Islay), on the following matters:

  1. (a) the extent and suitability of alternative peat reserves on Islay;
  2. (b) the effect of the proposed operations on the hydrology and vegetation of this site;
  3. (c) the likely effect of the proposed development upon the wintering Greenland white-fronted geese;
and whether they will publish any such advice, expert opinions or results of investigations initiated at their request.

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Gray of Contin)

As I have already informed the noble Lord on two previous occasions, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland sought written submissions from Scottish Malt Distillers Limited, Argyll and Bute District Council as planning authority, the Nature Conservancy Council and Greenland White-fronted Goose Study to assist him in his consideration of the application for planning permission for the extraction of peat from Duich Moss. My right honourable friend's decision to grant planning permission for the proposed development was taken on the basis of his assessment of the balance of the arguments set out in these submissions, particularly as regards the three issues raised by the noble Lord. No other expert advice was sought before the announcement that planning permission would be granted was made.

The Nature Conservancy Council and Scottish Malt Distillers Limited have recently agreed that they will jointly fund a comprehensive hydrological and ecological survey of Duich Moss to be undertaken by an independent consultant. I understand that this survey is being put in hand immediately