Oil pipeline safety concerns block hotel expansion plan
Developer FM Group was given permission last year to create a hotel with five rooms at Ury House near Stonehaven as part of a complex with a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.
But revised proposals for the historic building which would have increased the number of room to 35 rooms have been rejected by Aberdeenshire Council after health and safety concerns were raised due to its proximity to the North Sea Forties pipeline.
The Health and Safety Executive warned the council the 235-mile pipeline that links 85 oil and gas assets to the UK mainland and a processing plant in Grangemouth posed a “significant hazard” if more than 10 people stayed overnight at the hotel.
In a letter, the local authority’s chief planner, Robert Gray, said: “This proposal, for 35 bedrooms which could potentially be 70 people staying overnight, is too high a risk for the HSE to accept.
“From discussion with HSE the only real way to mitigate the risk is to divert the pipeline away from Ury House, or relay the pipeline in a much thicker pipe, neither of which is likely to be a viable solution.
“It would result in shutting down the entire pipeline for a period of time, and come at great cost.”
The revised application comes after the developer FM Group said it wanted to increase the number of hotel bedrooms because five was not good “economic use”.
In his letter, Mr Gray said the firm was trying to “maximise” the site’s tourism potential.
The renovation of B-listed Ury House is already under way.
Jonathon Milne, director of FM Group, said: “A five-bedroom hotel which we have consent for is not a good economic use of the building and it could be readily converted to a 35-room hotel as per the plans submitted with the only main obstacle being the BP Forties pipeline.”
He added: “We have asked BP if they would be willing to move the pipeline or indeed cap the entire pipeline in concrete.
“They have confirmed this would involve shutting down the pipeline for a period and that it would not be economically viable.”