THE NORTHMAVEN Community Council has objected to a retrospective planning application for concrete steps and handrails which were installed on a slight incline near to the Eshaness Lighthouse last year to help tourists on bus tours – and called for them to be removed.
The community council also requested that “something more appropriate be designed and presented to the local community for approval being before erected”.
The set of steps only feature four actual steps and they have often raised eyebrows for their location – on the side of a modest incline at a passing place near to the Eshaness Lighthouse, surrounded by green land.
They were installed by local tour company Island Vista last year to give visitors arriving in Eshaness on buses easier access up and down the hill to see the Calder’s Geo beauty spot.
However, no planning permission was sought at the time, with a retrospective application only now going in.
The handrails were originally made of wood, but they were later changed to more sturdy metal ‘Kee-Klamp’ rails.
Island Vista’s Jolene Garriock said the company put in the steps and handrail after getting approval from a crofter who they were told owned the land.
However, it later transpired that Shetland Islands Council were actually the landlords.
“A meeting was set up with the SIC’s chief executive, planning department, estates department and roads department,” Garriock explained.
“The meeting was productive and it was explained to us what we needed to do in order to keep the steps.
“This included: changing the handrails, concreting the ground at the final step and applying for retrospective planning permission. All of which has now been done.
“Now we are just waiting to see what the outcome is once it’s been through the necessary application process.”
The application was discussed at a recent meeting of a Northmaven Community Council, and there was a general feeling that the steps should be removed.
A statement was agreed by members in response to the application, which has been fed to planning staff.
“Northmaven Community Council objects to the placing of this inappropriate structure, without any local consultation, in a location of such importance and sensitivity,” it said.
“It sets an unacceptable precedent. An alternative and less intrusive method of easing the transfer of bus passengers should have been and still could be found.
“We would ask for the steps to be removed, the ground reinstated to its natural contours and would request that something more appropriate be designed and presented to the local community for approval before being erected.”
The council’s road service, meanwhile, commented that it would appear the handrail “does not comply with the relevant standards”.