An angry resident has criticised Scotland’s largest national park for lauding a modern drainage pond to a group of visiting Icelandic delegates in a new video.
Gordon Bulloch, who runs The Dulaig bed and breakfast in Grantown with his wife, Carol, claims the video misleadingly extolls the benefits of a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) which is part of the 53-home Beachen Court development, currently under construction.
He claims the excavation work to build the pond, which adjoins his driveway, destroyed a small ecosystem of wildlife-rich marshland and that an improvised construction design for an access track around it will damage the roots of trees, including a 100-year-old beech.
Sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) are designed to collect rainwater from roofs, roads and pavements in man-made basins which can be slowly released into rivers and streams to prevent flooding.
In the past, drainage techniques have traditionally been below ground tanks and pipes, which transported water away as quickly as possible.
Murray Ferguson, director of planning and rural development at the CNPA, said the SUDS pond encourages a more efficient approach to drainage and water management while enhancing wildlife habitat.
He said they were pleased to show the site to international visitors and national experts and are aware of “very specific concerns” about construction from immediate neighbours.
Mr Bulloch, who previously worked in environmental consultancy, said: “From my knowledge and professional experience this is a very good example of how not to design a SUDS pond.”
In the video, posted last week on social media by the CNPA, ecological adviser Sally Mackenzie says they are working to enhance SUDS schemes and biodiversity in the national park.
But Mr Bulloch says the SUDS land and neighbouring wetlands were scraped and excavated for an access road, and that neither the developer or planning authority have found ways to preserve more of the former habitat.
He said the former marshland and rough grazing was rich in wild flowering plants and insects which depend on them and that biodiversity has been reduced.
Mr Bulloch said that the SUDS pond should have been built about 35ft west of where it is and that the east side of it now covers the roots of his sycamore and beech trees.
An independent consultant’s report commissioned by Mr Bulloch concluded that the track around the SUDS pond will likely cause damage to the tree roots.
But Robbie McLeod, of developers RS McLeod, said the SUDS scheme has been designed by professional engineers and was fully approved and adopted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Highland Council’s flood team and the park authority.