Council orders former BP boss to remove 'vandal-proof' fencing

David Lawrie, the former director of BP Exploration (Delta), had built the controversial barrier around a patch of ground behind his home.

Oil and gas boss ordered to remove ‘vandal-proof’ fencing from property by Aberdeen City Council iStock

Aberdeen City Council has ordered an oil and gas boss to remove fencing in a Countesswells neighbourhood that was constructed without permission.

David Lawrie, the former director of BP Exploration (Delta), had built the controversial barrier around a patch of ground behind his home at Craigden.

He argued it was needed to stop vandals from accessing the site, where they had previously damaged trees and fences, set fires and left litter lying everywhere.

Mr Lawrie even bought the 781 square metre area back in 2019 in a bid to tackle the problem himself.

After informing Aberdeen City Council of his plan to fence off the ground, he didn’t hear anything back so went ahead with the project.

A 1.8m timber fence was then installed around the site, and the issue seemed to have been solved.

However, the local authority contacted the oil and gas executive last summer claiming he was using the ground as a private garden.

The claim was shot down by Mr Lawrie, who informed the council that the area was being used as a “community garden” by himself and his neighbours.

A locked gate had been installed on the fence, but all Craigden residents were given access to it.

Following council demands, Mr Lawrie lodged a planning application to ensure the land could be legally changed from public open space to private community use.

He even admitted he would be happy to remove the fence once trees on the site had matured and were less vulnerable to damage.

The city council’s local review body discussed the proposal earlier today.

Members visited the site beforehand to allow them to see the patch of ground in question before making a final decision on the matter.

Councillor Emma Farquhar was minded to allow the fence to stay in place for a temporary five year period to give the newly planted trees a chance to grow.

But her fellow board members thought otherwise.

Councillor Sandra Macdonald didn’t believe it met council policy and was worried the fencing was taking away valuable open space for members of the public.

She added: “I wasn’t blown away by the reference to this as a really well preserved site and a real gem because it wasn’t.

“It didn’t look particularly loved and cared for, it would have been better to be part of that wider open space network.”

“On balance, that fence shouldn’t be there.”

She also argued there were other ways to protect the trees and deter any vandalism.

Meanwhile councillor Miranda Radley confessed she was “on the fence” about the application.

But she eventually backed calls to refuse the proposal after voicing concerns about the precedence this could set, believing it could have “wider consequences” on future planning applications.

She added: “It doesn’t look like an accessible open space that everyone can use and that is what it should be.”

Board convener Ciaran McRae also raised worries about other communities or landowners doing something similar that could potentially block off access to other green spaces around Aberdeen.

Following debate, the application was refused.

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