Crofters have hit out at Highland councillors for their “betrayal” of the culture and future of crofting across the region.
Members of the north planning committee last week granted permission for new house on inbye land, which is close to buildings and some of the best land for crofting.
Councillors met last week to determine two applications for houses on inbye land in Gairloch and Kylerhea respectively.
Now, bosses from the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) have slammed the decision to approve the application near Gairloch.
Yvonne White, chairwoman of the SCF, said: “That these councillors claim to represent Highland interests is fallacy.
“Crofting is deeply rooted in the Highland culture and communities. The croft inbye is the good land, the land that we need to protect for food production. It is scarce in the Highlands and Islands and, who knows, we may well be needing every scrap we can get in the near future.
“There is alternative land that is not suitable for food production available for houses. It is galling to hear councillors, who are supposed to be our representatives, say that housing trumps the need to protect croft inbye.
“Granting development consent on inbye is rarely necessary and these recent assertions demonstrate a disappointing degree of ignorance or bias against crofting.”
Permission was granted on the Gairloch house after councillors opted to overturn planner’s recommendations, winning by a single vote.
The home in Kylerhea was denied as scope was established to place the house elsewhere on land deemed to be poorer.
Ms White added: “Are councillors competent to over-rule two professional recommendations and their own policy which ‘seeks to protect croft land and crofting as a core component of life in the Highlands’?
“This irresponsible behaviour by the councillors is nothing short of betrayal of our culture and of our future.”
“Comments made by some councillors about crofting seemed to be prejudiced against crofters and not worthy of someone in public office within a crofting county. We will be taking this up with the council.”
The meeting to determine the outcome of the applications was held last Wednesday where some councillors deemed the need for houses in west coast villages to be of greater importance than the need to protect inbye land.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Eight councillors approved a motion which was against the Planning Officer’s recommendation to refuse planning permission.
“The motion to approve was put forward by councillor Derek MacLeod (seconded by councillor Biz Campbell) to grant the application subject to conditions and for the reasons stated which was against the planning officer’s recommendations and the amendment put forward by the chairwoman of the NPAC committee councillor Maxine Smith which received seven votes.”