Appeal to set up new manufacturing plant rejected by Reporter

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A green energy homes firm says Scotland has missed out on hundreds of jobs after plans to set up a UK manufacturing plant in Lanarkshire were rejected.

Irish company Thermohouse claimed their products would have helped the Scottish Government meet carbon emission targets had they been allowed to operate from a 27-acre site at Newhouse.

However, a Government reporter has refused to allow the greenbelt land to be developed, despite claims that it is poor quality scrubland.

The firm will now look at sites south of the border instead.

Consultants MKA Economics said Thermohouse would have employed 200 people and there would be “many more than this in their supply chain”.

The consultants’ report added: “If they are unable to occupy this site they have said they will look elsewhere in the UK and outside of Scotland.”

Thermohouse manufacture modern building systems for homes which are said to bring “significant” savings in energy bills.

Their “thermally efficient construction materials” are produced at a plant in County Kerry, but they are looking to expand into the UK and other European countries.

In a letter to North Lanarkshire Council, managing director Michael Cronin said: “We have been particularly aware of the progressive nature of public policy emanating from Scotland in terms of the low carbon and circular economy at both national and local government level and, indeed, the significant progress made in the decarbonisation of the country as a whole.

“The Thermohouse range can assist the low carbon agenda in Scotland and in meeting the need for more public and private sector housing.”

Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle, supported by several local businesses and residents, argued that the site should be released.

He said it is of poor agricultural value and is surrounded by industrial development including large depots.

The local authority disagreed and its decision to refuse planning permission was upheld after an appeal to Government reporter Don Rankin.

He described the proposal as “an unjustified incursion into the greenbelt”.

Mr Lyle said: “I’m disappointed by the outcome. It’s a lost opportunity.

“The development would have brought jobs to the area and around £1 million a year in business rates to the local authority.

“In addition, the company’s low energy building systems would have contributed to our ambitions for a low carbon and circular economy in Scotland.”

Thermohouse said the location, next to junction 6 of the M8, was a key factor in choosing Newhouse.

But the reporter pointed out that alternative sites, such as at nearby Eurocentral, could be investigated.

He dismissed claims by project developers Arrandale Limited that there is a shortage of suitable sites in the area.

Mr Rankin stated: “There is major over-supply of industrial land in North Lanarkshire.

“I note the council says neither Thermohouse nor Arrandale have contacted it directly to explore sites which might have a more realistic chance of getting planning permission.”