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Petition launched against multimillion-pound plan in buchan

A ROW has erupted over plans to build a multimillion-pound crematorium in the heart of rural Buchan.

The scheme is earmarked for a 14-acre plot south of Mintlaw, between Longside and Stuartfield.

Peterhead funeral director Robert Mackie is behind the plan, which is proposed for land at West Knock Farm, owned by local councillor Albert Howie.

Former Banff and Buchan MP Sir Albert McQuarrie is acting as development consultant for project leaders Kinmundy Crematorium Ltd.

However, the development now faces a backlash from locals who believe it could ruin their tranquility.

The owners of a recently-opened equestrian centre next door to the site have submitted a petition with 200 signatures against the plan.

They say the facility could upset horses and have a negative impact on riding competitions and dressage events, particularly during the construction phase.

Aberdeenshire Council said it had received more than 50 objections to the scheme, mostly from people living nearby.

A spokesman for the Richmond Horse Riding Centre, run by John and Jayne Ritchie, claimed the business was under threat from the plan.

In a letter to the local authority, the spokesman said the crematorium would be “entirely incompatible with the equestrian centre and its livery stables, which rely on a quiet rural location for the wellbeing of the horses.”

He added: “Existing customers have made it clear that they may no longer use the livery if the crematorium is allowed to operate.

“The council should be supporting local enterprise. However, if permission for the crematorium is granted, Mr and Mrs Ritchie face being left with a business and house which are effectively rendered worthless.”

Opponents also claim the scheme will lead to an unacceptable increase of traffic, and that emissions from its two chimney stacks could create unpleasant smells.

The Mintlaw plan is one of two similar schemes in the pipeline for the north-east corner. Outline planning permission for a £3million crematorium at Crimond was approved last year.

Developers behind the West Knock bid envisage a crematorium with a tearoom, landscaped areas and car parking for around 290 vehicles. They have tabled a detailed application for full planning permission which will go before councillors in the coming months.

A traffic survey carried out by the group found that the development would not lead to any major road problems.

Project leaders said that the response from the public during a consultation exercise had been largely positive.

It has been claimed that a crematorium in north Aberdeenshire will ease pressure on existing facilities at Aberdeen, Buckie and Arbroath.

Project spokesman Sir Albert said last night: “We have been very careful about working out the distance between the crematorium and the buildings at the equestrian centre and they are more than the required distance of 200 yards apart.

“I'm very comfortable that we have done everything we can to address all issues.”

He added: “When we held a public meeting about this, over 100 people attended and the vast majority were in favour. Only a handful were against it.”

The building would be screened by trees, he said.

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