NORTH Ayrshire Council’s planning committee has approved initial plans for a cable manufacturing facility to be created at the disused Hunterston coal yards.

Debate over the controversial plans lasted over two hours at the committee meeting last Wednesday, June 30.

The plans, submitted by manufacturing company XLCC, have sparked debate as they could bring up to 900 jobs into the area, though objectors are concerned what effects the proposed 185m high tower needed for the facility could have on the local landscape.

Objectors claimed the plans could be misleading, which was the topic of much of the debate between committee members and XLCC representatives at the meeting.

The application which was up for discussion is for tower and general site only, and a further application will be needed for the remaining details of the site.

Questions which were posed to the manufacturer’s representatives included how much power the site would use itself, and queries on the number of jobs created.

They responded by confirming the site would generate power using solar panels, and that 900 jobs was an accurate figure.

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Concerns regarding the environmental impact were also relayed, with planning officer James Miller saying Nature Scotland confirmed the nearby Site of Specific Scientific Interest would not be affected.

As the committee neared the point of making a decision, it appeared there may be a sticking point.

SNP councillors Alan Hill and Eleanor Collier requested the decision on the application be delayed. They said it should be delayed due to the complex nature of the application, and the 111 documents associated with it.

They said they would like more time for residents and the planning committee to look over the plans in greater detail.

Cllr Scott Davidson also raised concerns that the application was being rushed through and there was little awareness of the application and its impacts in the local area.

Planning officer James Miller said the application had been in for four months, and if it wasn’t determined today the applicant could take the case to the Scottish Government.

Councillors were eventually asked to vote, whether to approve the application as is, with associated conditions, or delay for a site visit and to obtain more information.

The application was then passed by five votes to three.

With plans now approved, work on the site could begin as early as December, with a build time for the tower and associated buildings of 13 or 14 months.