Midlothian Council drones plan dropped after concerns raised

Concern about council-funded drones flying over people’s gardens has seen plans to use them shelved.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 10:32 am
Stock picture of a drone in flight. SWNS.

Midlothian Council’s planning boss said that calls for drone images to be used to give elected members a better idea of the impact of major developments had hit a snag when it came to invasion of privacy.

Instead, developers will be asked to provide their own eye-in-the-sky image in future applications.

A virtual meeting of the council’s planning committee saw Councillor Kelly Parry ask about the progress of introducing a drone or using local drone owners to take aerial images. She raised the matter as the committee was considering a report on a Pre Application Notice for a retail complex at New Pentland, near Straiton.

Planning boss Peter Arnsdorf told councillors that complications had arisen around using the hi-tech equipment.

He said: “We looked at this previously and spoke to a number of local authorities who have started using drones but it got complicated by Data Protection with regards to flying over people’s private properties.

“We have tried to get developers to do their own.”

Cllr Russell Imrie, planning convenor, welcomed this.

The proposals for New Pentland by Pentland Park Marine Ltd include a hotel, food retail, housing, elderly accommodation and commercial premises on the site next to Straiton, which adjoins the junction of the A701 and Pentland Road.

Developers say that 145 permanent jobs would be created and a further 172 during construction.

The report from council officers gave a provisional planning view that the proposal was contrary to Midlothian Council’s Local Development Plan (MLDP) with most of the site allocated as countryside and part of it allocated for a residential park home.

Planners concluded: “It is considered that the mixed-use development could compromise strategic objectives in the MLDP that require the openness andcharacter of the countryside to be maintained and the amenity ofexisting park home residents to be protected.”

No councillors expressed a view on the proposal and the committee noted the planners’ provisional position