Ellon councillor new Formartine chairman

FORMARTINE Area Committee has a new chair and vice chair after the formal election on Tuesday.

Ellon and District councillor Rob Merson was nominated for the post of chair unopposed, with Mid Formartine councillor Paul Johnston likewise elected to the vice-chair position without opposition.

Cllr Merson told the Times that the position was a great honour and that he would act in his capacity as chair with diligence.

He said: “There can be little doubt that the Formartine Area has been at the very centre of new developments in the north east of Scotland in recent years. As the home of Trump International, an area of prime interest for wind energy development, the site of a new state-of-the-art academy in Ellon and an area earmarked for substantial new house building, Formartine has clearly identified itself as an area which will be at the forefront of economic recovery.

He added that there were a number of significant local projects which the committee would be dealing with.

“The development of the Black Dog to Peterhead Strategic Growth Area, the Energetica corridor, and the dualling of the A90 are projects which will engage us in coming months.

“I am delighted to be chairing the Committee which will be so influential in creating an environment to deliver economic growth, and will seek to encourage the highest standards of design and build. In Formartine, we are fortunate in having one of the areas of highest employment and lowest poverty – but we are not devoid of problems, and there are challenges to be met in our attempts to build a more inclusive society.”

One of Formartine’s ongoing issues remains the provision of affordable housing, with high property prices placing barriers in the way of young families owning their own homes.

Cllr Merson said: “One of the penalties of success is the high cost of housing, and securing the provision of affordable homes is just one of the many issues which we have to address. I therefore very much look forward to working with my colleagues in meeting those challenges.”

The committee is set to have a challenging year ahead, particularly owing to the ongoing debate over wind turbines and the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre. Likely divisions were illustrated on Tuesday, when the committee divided down the middle regarding a Cumminestown wind turbine which was passed by just one vote.