10 October 2022

Infrastructure Services Committee October round-up

During its meeting on Thursday, October 6, Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee discussed new proposals for Household Recycling Centres, the Place-Based Investment Programme and strategic transport updates.

Place-based Investment programme

Councillors noted the progress being made on the distribution of funding to projects
supported with monies from the 2021/22 and 2022/23 allocation of Place Based Investment Programme funds. Members also agreed the criteria and process to be used for the distribution of funding for 2023/24 to 2025/26. Projects funded in 2022-23 have included the Alford Valley Community Railway, Ellon Wheel Park, Haughton Park Bike Pump Track & All Ability Trails, Huntly Town Centre Community CCTV and the Tarlair Pavilion project. There was discussion around the geographical spread of the project awards and assurances sought that projects in all six areas would be considered, with a new Place Strategy being developed to help identify key projects which will become the priority for external funding. During discussion, Cllr Glen Reid also proposed a motion that there be elected member representation on the internal panel comprising officers from Planning & Economy, Finance and Area Managers to assess and score applications. However it was defeated in a 10-4 vote, after other councillors felt there was adequate political input through consultation with the chair, vice-chair and opposition spokesperson of Infrastructure Services Committee and the council leader.

North East of Scotland Fisheries Development Partnership

Following discussions around the roles and remits of North East of Scotland Fisheries Development Partnership (NESFDP) and Fisheries Working Group (FWG), committee agreed to retain NESFDP as an inter-authority partnership and disband the FWG, while revising the terms of reference to incorporate the remit of FWG and ensuring that the Partnership has a focused remit with deliverable outputs. Fisheries and seafood have been key sectors in North East Scotland for many years and are vital to the local economy. Established in the 1990s, NESFDP is a cross party, cross-sectoral group hosted by Aberdeenshire Council which meets three times per annum and seeks to provide a communication channel between the wider industry and its political representatives at all levels. The group’s remit is to provide support and advice to the fishing industry with representation from local authorities, local enterprise companies, fishing industry associations and scientific environmental sector. During discussion there were calls for fishermen, skippers and the processing sector to be actively involved in future discussions to get direct intelligence around the challenges facing the industry. The council’s representatives on the group will be councillors Doreen Mair, Mark Findlater, Ann Bell, Seamus Logan and Alistair Forsyth.

Strategic Transport Update

Councillors heard that good progress continues to be made on the council’s Strategic Transport work – most recently approval being given for a peak-time road closure scheme outside Fraserburgh South Park Primary and progress on new electric vehicle charge point programme with completion of feasibility stages and tendering due to start this month. An update was also given on the Ready2Go Around Inverurie Digital Demand Responsive Travel service. A decision was taken earlier this year to extend the pilot project for a further year to gain a better understanding of the benefits, or otherwise, of DDRT prior to deciding whether to continue Ready2Go Around Inverurie on a more permanent basis and whether a roll-out of DDRT services should be proceeded. However, with the project facing ongoing challenges related to the high cost of the service, committee agreed that the chair of Infrastructure Services Committee will write to the Minister for Transport to request revenue funding support to continue the service and allow further evaluation into the potential benefits this type of service can have on rural communities.

Household Recycling Centre proposals

Household recycling centres will trial changes to their booking system from November 28. Faced with two potential options, councillors debated the matter at length before Cllr Glen Reid proposed an amendment to trial a 50/50 hybrid split of bookings and non-bookings across Aberdeenshire. However Cllr Alan Turner proposed a motion which was carried by 9 votes to 4 with one abstention which fully removes the booking system on a trial basis in the Banff & Buchan, Buchan, and Marr areas. As part of that same trial, household recycling centres in Formartine will be put onto a hybrid booking system, which will allow for non-booking days each Wednesday and Saturday The Garioch and Kincardine & Mearns area committees will determine the options for their sites in due course. Running until July next year, the trial will monitor the type, frequency, and total number of visits by all users for each site. Much of the discussion centred around how to keep trade waste out of household recycling centres when the removal of the booking system goes live in some areas and on some days. The decision on how the household recycling centre trial will operate considered feedback from all six area committees that took place across August and September.

Other matters:

Carbon Budget – In its 6-monthly update, committee heard that while progress was being made in terms of carbon reduction activities, the results were not as positive has had been anticipated. Challenges continue to be faced around the supply chain both in terms of equipment and materials which are affecting a number of delivery aspects within the directorate. However, in addition to the actions listed in the Carbon Budget 2022-2023, work is also underway on a number of different projects including the continued identification of funding opportunities to support Aberdeenshire Council in reaching its emission reduction targets.

Financial Performance - Committee considered and commented on the forecasted over budget position as of August 31. Currently the forecast expenditure is expected to exceed the Net Revenue Budget by £449,000.

Planning Matters:

Members agreed to grant full planning permission, subject to conditions, a national application for the creation of an enclosed high voltage electricity substation and associated development on land at Leylodge, Kintore for Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission.

Committee agreed that authority be delegated to the head of Planning and Economy to respond to the Energy Consents Unit consultation with no objection, subject to conditions, for proposals for a solar photovoltaic park and battery storage facility on Land at Frodo Farm, Crimond, Aberdeenshire. The Scottish Government has consulted Aberdeenshire Council in respect of an application under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989.

The full agenda and documents for the meeting can be found here:

The full recorded webcast can be viewed here: