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Live power cable stops school demolition work

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Demolition work has been halted at the site of a former primary school in Lochaber as a power cable on the site was found to be live.

Caol Community Council was told this week that “someone could have been killed” as a result of the incident at Lochyside Primary School near Fort William.

The school was being demolished ahead of work starting on a development of 70 new homes on the site.

But the meeting in Caol Community Centre heard that the demolition is presently on hold because of the cable incident – which cut the power supply to local homes – and also because a small amount of asbestos has been found in the grounds.

Community councillor, Donald Elder, said: “A live power cable seems to have been running through the site. Someone could have been killed because of this. I am concerned at the overall management of this project as lots of short-cuts seem to have been taken.

“Around 800 houses were affected when the power went out and I believe two were damaged. We need some answers,” he added.

Amanda MacRitchie of the architects, Bracewell Stirling, was invited to the meeting but couldn’t manage to attend.

Community councillor John Gillespie wrote to Ms MacRitchie about their concerns over the development and her reply was read out at the meeting.

She said: “We confirm the demolition is on hold as two unforeseen items have arisen and require to be resolved before work can resume.”

“There were complications with power isolation to the main school building which resulted in some of the surrounding properties being cut off.

“Diversions are required to the properties affected before the school can be finally demolished and direct contact is being maintained with these properties.”

Ms MacRitchie said an additional small area of asbestos had been found which will require specialist removal and acknowledged there had been significant changes to the layout of the development.

“Scottish Water’s confirmation on connection points has been severely delayed due to a late requirement for a full network assessment which takes 10 weeks.

“We are still within this period but, until we have confirmation, we are unable to finalise connection points and therefore the design.”

Ms MacRitchie said she would be able to attend the June meeting of the community council.

“This will allow us to report on the finalised design prior to the meeting of Highland Council’s planning committee on June 20.”

A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “Scottish Water Horizons is working closely with the developer to finalise connection points within the given timescale.”

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