Housebuilder accused of ‘trying to save money’ in earth bund row

East Lothian planners branded the proposed bund 'alien and unnatural'.

Housebuilder accused of ‘trying to save money’ in earth bund row iStock

A housebuilder’s attempt to avoid taking 15,000 cubic metres of soil to a landfill site failed after councillors threw out their claim it was better for the environment.

Balfour Beatty wanted to build a large series of bunds on prime agricultural land with the soil, which was being removed from a neighbouring site where they are building homes.

But while the developer argued it would avoid 1600 lorry trips and be better for global warming, East Lothian planners branded the proposed bund “alien and unnatural”.

At an appeal hearing of the council’s Local Review Body this week, councillors agreed and questioned the real reason behind the bid.

Councillor Jeremy Findlay told the meeting: “If I was being cynical, I would suggest the housebuilder is doing this because he does not want to have to pay for the lorries to carry this dirt away.

“I cannot see any good reason for this bund apart from the economics of it.”

Balfour Beatty wanted to create three bunds around new homes on the outskirts of Macmerry, describing them as a “pleasing background” to the new housing scheme.

In their appeal statement to the review body, they said: “Without being able to develop the earth bunds, Balfour Beatty Homes would have to take approximately 15,000 m3 of material off the site.

“This equates to approximately 1600 lorry loads. Each journey made by these vehicles would produce further considerable greenhouse gas emissions, adversely contributing to the overall effects of global warming.”

The firm has planning permission for 122 houses and 20 flats at land off Macmerry main road at Adniston Farm.

The Local Review Body was told that other housing development sites used the soil on the site as part of its construction and in landscaping.

Councillor Neil Gilbert, review body member, said: “This bund is unusual. What if other developers just follow suit.

“I see no reason why the builders cannot look at other options, particularly as it is high-quality top soil.”

Review body chairman, councillor Andrew Forrest, agreed, adding: “It is totally alien to that area, I cannot see how it would look natural.”

The appeal was unanimously rejected.

By local democracy reporter Marie Sharp

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