Campaigners have warned an Aberdeenshire housing scheme could endanger vulnerable wildlife and pollute the region’s largest river.
The Banchory-based Scolty Redevelopment group has spoken out against Sandlaw Farming’s plans for 400 homes at Braehead, Auchattie, south of the town.
The proposals are for 300 rented homes, 75 affordable homes and 25 assisted-living apartments, ranging from one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom homes.
Mike Adams, spokesman for Scolty Redevelopment, said members feared the drainage system proposed in the planning application would lead to pollution of the River Dee through run-off into one of its tributaries, the Auchattie Burn.
They are also concerned about the threat to protected species on the land, including pine martens, otters, badgers and red squirrels, as well as the visual impact on the Scolty woodlands, local roads and the town’s schools.
Mr Adams said: “It is our opinion that the urbanisation would have a severe impact on the local wildlife, woodland and the River Dee through the reduction of green space, woodland, water quality and a major increase in ground disturbance.
“The idea that a development of this scale and construction on this scale would not affect an area of conservation is hard for us to believe.”
Sandlaw Farming initially wanted to construct more than 700 homes on the site.
Mr Adams said his group was also worried the development could be the first phase in a larger scale vision for the area.
“It’s not that we are anti-development, we are against unnecessary development,” he said.
“They have reduced the amount of land they are building on but increased the housing density.”
However Colin Liddell, spokesman for Sandlaw Farming, insisted “there is not a plan to go beyond” the development proposed.
He added: “Our development proposals will comply with all local and standard policies on drainage and sewage.
“An independent specialist has looked at all aspects of wildlife and diversity and found there would be insignificant impact on species except for one bat species.
“We’re actually trying to address what people need and what we’re quite clear about is people need housing.”