Category Archives: NEWS


Udny Climate Action, last weekend [ 13th March ] organised a small practical step in their campaign of climate action.

On the principle that its actions by every individual that will make the difference, they set about planting 400 trees. All done on the Saturday.

Trees are not the only solution, the preservation of soils, peat bogs and grasslands can equally play a part. But trees are definitely part, in places where trees are the natural default wild habitat. That includes much of the North East of Scotland. The trees not only capture carbon, they bind and enrich soils, creating massive underground carbon /fungal networks and they allow for a profusion of insects and higher forms of local wildlife.

Thanks Udny Climate Action

( UCA are part of Pitmedden, Udny Tarves Community SCIO and anyone who cares for the planet can join. )

If you want to know more about how trees can help in the battle against Climate Change, please email me on


I was quoted at the Aberdeenshire full council meeting saying there was light at the end of he tunnel. It gave the impression that CoVId-19 would come to an end soon with vaccination.

As if it were an admonishment Cllr Ford, he explained (well ) what was likely to happen. While some of the worst of the pandemic will pass to a lower level, it will not ‘go away’ for some considerable time, if ever. I should be clear that I agree with Martin.

But I gave the wrong impression.

So what will happen? A lot will get better, although it could get worse again so easily. That’s what a virus can do.

This series of “Tweets” amounts to an article. It explains it. Its knowledgeable.

Life will get better but we have to change to keep it livable. We must learn to live with our new normal and its not back to the way things were…for a very long time if ever.

It is worth a read. (2mins)

Potterton – What was missed.

The Local Plan which allocates sites takes a long time to trundle its way to adoption. The residents of Potterton’s part in it is NOT just at the end when the Council publishes a final plan for objection. Its long before that. And the actual decision is still a distance away.

The planning system starts with a document that sets out the path to adopting a plan and the individual steps. This is called the ‘Development Plan Scheme’ You can see all of them here: LINK The Council publishes one each year to update the public.

Purpose of a Development Plan Scheme

This Development Plan Scheme sets out the current programme for preparing the Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan 2021. It is designed to inform stakeholders of the programme of work that will deliver a new Local Development Plan for the Aberdeenshire Council area by the end of 2021


The Main Issues Report and Draft Proposed Local Development Plan were published on 14th January 2019 and were subject to public consultation until 8th April 2019. Nearly 1200 representations were received. This information is now historical but you can view the Main Issues Report on the archive page.

Extract from Development Plan Scheme.

From the last main issues report dealing with the progress of the new local plan, this gives the relevant dates about each stage.

The full process is laid out in a table below and the Council’s Participation statement highlighted in blue. For residents this may not be enough, but the Council appears to have followed an approved path of consultation (however disputed).

The process of completing the local plan is one that often has failed to engage the public effectively. Many people, cannot be bothered with what is legalistic text and complex processes that still seem to perpetually favour the developer.

“This is an issue that I have long sort reform when planning legislation comes up for review” said Cllr Paul Johnston. ” The problem is that we have a legal framework and the Council follows it it, flaws and all. “There is a certain irony here in that this local plan in its early stages, got a higher than normal response. Clealry that did not work as far as a sizeable portion of Potterton was concerned.

The final independent decision, other than for narrow legal purposes, is carried out by a Government appointed @reporter’. The Reporter now has all information from objectors, developers and the Council and will judge.

“Residents might make formal representations through the DPEA to the appointed reporter if they are arguing for a full hearing on the issues at Potterton. “

“It is not now a case of changing the Council’s mind but convincing the Independent Reporter that they should consider a different proposal for Potterton”

Cllr Paul Johnston

Stages of Plan Production

StageStrategic Environmental
Assessment (‘SEA’)
Proposed Date
1.Pre Main Issues
Prepare SEA Scoping
Until January 2019
2.Publish Main Issues
Report for consultation.
Publish Draft Proposed
Local Development
Plan for consultation
Publish Interim
Environmental Report for
the Strategic
From 14 January to 8 April
3.Publish (electronically)
Proposed Local
Development Plan for
Publish (electronically)
Strategic Environmental
Assessment (SEA) –
Environmental Report of
the Proposed Local
Development Plan
May to July 2020
4.Submit Proposed Local
Development Plan to
Scottish Ministers for
Publish Strategic
Assessment (SEA) –
Environmental Report of
the Proposed Local
Development Plan
consultation responses
December 2020 for
Examination from January
5.Adopt the Local
Development Plan
June to September 2021 for
adoption by 31 December
6.Publish Delivery
Prepare Strategic
Assessment (SEA) post
adoption statement
Table from the Development Pan Scheme

How to Get Involved – The Participation Statement

Who we will Consult

We have identified six main user groups of the Development Plan with whom we
would like to engage with on its production:
• Community Councils and other Community Groups are formal gatherings of
interested local parties with a key interest in the wider future of their
• Land development and building interests have a key role in ensuring that an
appropriate scale of development is delivered in appropriate places. This
group broadly comprises developers, landowners, and agents.
• Key agencies have a role to monitor and police the content of the Local
Development Plan to ensure that their interests are appropriately represented.
This group includes Government Agencies such as Scottish Natural Heritage
and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
• Special interest groups formed to promote specific topics within
Aberdeenshire, such as Friends of the Earth, The Bailies of Bennachie, and
the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs and who will be keen to see
their specific interests protected.
• Other individuals may have a specific issue that they wish to conserve or see
developed. Consultation should be open to all within the community.
• Finally, significant engagement is required within Aberdeenshire Council, and
Transport Scotland, Scottish Water, and NHS Grampian to ensure that any
Plan is deliverable.
A database of consultees is maintained by the Planning and Environment Service
and updated regularly. Non-statutory stakeholders have the opportunity to withdraw
from receiving notifications sent regarding the progress of the Plan.
Statement of Methods to be Used
A number of consultation methods have and will continue to be used to ensure these
groups all have a voice in the preparation of the Aberdeenshire Local Development
Plan 2021.
From late 2017 and throughout 2018 and 2019 we have already undertaken the
following actions:
• Distinctive branding on the Local Development Plan documents has been
implemented to provide a clear identity.
• Pre-engagement took place with Community Councils, land development and
building interests, key agencies and special interest groups to ensure that any
issues that they have with the existing Local Development Plan are recorded,
and where possible actioned. Generally, this has been done through
stakeholder seminars where an overview of the content and the intent of the
current Plan has been presented, and options sought for improvements that
could be undertaken.

• Likewise, all Community Councils were offered a “Place Planning” seminar
with planning staff. Run with Community Planning staff, we had a very high
level of participation from the Community Councils. These sessions sought to
identify what the local issues were within a community so as to inform the
shared vision that we have for the settlement and identify those features that
should be protected or enhanced. The Place Standard Tool was used in this
engagement process.
• Engagement was undertaken with Elected Members and representatives of
Community Councils during the bid assessment process such that comments
on policies and proposals could be captured at an early stage and reflected in
the Main Issues Report.
• The Main Issues Report was published on 14 January 2019. Statutory notices
were published in the Press and Journal Newspaper giving 12 weeks for
people to give us their views.
• Copies of the Main Issues Report were made available through all public
libraries in Aberdeenshire. The Main Issues Report was also made available
online alongside a Draft Proposed Local Development Plan as a tool to aid
with interpretation of the Main Issues Report.
• A response pro-forma was placed on the website.
• We wrote to all Community Councils providing formal notice of the publication
of the Main Issues Report and advising them that the Main Issues Report
together with a Draft Proposed Local Development Plan, the response form
and all related documents were available online. Each Community Council
was offered additional visits from a Planning Officer to answer any questions
and support their submission.
• We wrote to all other stakeholders advising them that the Main Issues Report
and a Draft Proposed Plan had been published, and to invite responses.
• We developed the website to provide information on the Local Development
Plan and the process that we are using to consult upon it. The website has
been developed to promote the Main Issues Report and encourage electronic
submission of representations.
• We visited 17 community venues across the Local Development Plan area at
drop-in sessions to invite public participation by submitting comments on the
Main Issues Report.
• We undertook a Youth Engagement Pilot project which saw Planning Officers
engage with 14 primary schools and 2 secondary schools across
Aberdeenshire. This equated to approximately 450 young people. The
project was shortlisted for a Scottish Award for Quality in Planning 2019.
• All representations received were catalogued and reviewed. An ‘Issues and
Actions’ Report was produced to summarise all comments made, to establish
the issues raised, and identify if and what actions are required.
• Special Area Committee meetings were held during August and September
2019 for the purpose of presenting and discussing the Issues and Actions
concerning policies and proposals for each of the six Administrative areas.
Recommendations and comments received from the Area Committees were
subsequently reported to and considered by the Council’s Infrastructure
Services Committee in October 2019.
• The Monitoring Report has been updated.

A New Year message that needs to be passed on.

It would be my only ask that we understand that co-operation is more important than sovereignty for the existential battle against climate change – now the worlds biggest challenge. We can see the dawn of the control of Covid-19, but it remains small as a problem compared to the global climate emergency.

Despite all this, there is great hope for the future with working together, reducing international and national divisions, all within a framework of trust, peace and justice. Many young people are waking up this.

We will have to combat isolationism, nationalistic ‘sovereignty’ like Brexit and the rise of authoritarian and often racist regimes. We need to protect science, truth and trust.

Have a good 2021. It has to be better than 2020… it can’t be much worse can it?

I’ll be working to make it as good as I humanly can.


The Small Grants Scheme (2nd round) is open for applications but the closing date is noon tomorrow, 9th December 2020, decisions will be made by 15th December 2020.

They have so far received applications from across Formartine but NONE from METHLICK, FOVERAN OR YTHAN community council areas.

If you are unsure about applying please get in touch with them.

The Trustees are open to one-off survival grant applications from small groups facing closure due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in addition to the standard application criteria.

This scheme is funded through our joint venture with Cardinghill Renewables Limited for the good of the communities throughout the Formartine area of Aberdeenshire.

To apply please visit our website

Formartine Partnership

29 Bridge Street



AB41 9AA

Tel: 01358 720584

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO)

No. SC049617


Assistance Hub making a real difference

The response from local authorities, NHS Grampian, police, Fire and rescue in assisting local communities to both organise (and be effective), can be seen in the article below. No response is perfect, I accept, but the effort in the north east is clearly working. What we need is for people to continue to follow the guidance to stay at home unless for essential journeys and remember separation distances. This will, in the end, be as effective as possible in saving lives.

Assistance Hub making a real difference

Partners from across the public sector have been praising the Grampian Assistance Hub, established last month to help people in need throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The phone line and website both went live at the end of March. Since then, more than 3,000 people have used the site to ask for help or to request help for someone else.

The website address is and the phone number is 0808 196 3384 (8am-8pm 7 days a week). The main objective is as a place where people can report that they need help. It is also a way for residents to volunteer their support which they can safely deliver in their communities. Staff are on the phone to provide callers with up to date information, or to link them up with the right person who can quickly answer questions.

Another important feature is that the site can be used to request help on behalf of someone else, allowing friends and neighbours to signpost to someone in need.

The Hub is open across Grampian, accessible to anyone from Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire or Moray.

And the praise for the work of those staffing the Hub to get help to those at their most vulnerable has been pouring in.

Case studies:

  • Email received from woman who lives in Northern Ireland but her elderly parents are in Inverurie. Through the hub a local church group were able to deliver them a food parcel. Despite having been insistent that they “were fine” the parcel was incredibly warmly received and may save them having to go out for a while.
  • Elderly woman in Elgin who had broken her leg so couldn’t walk her dog. Hub staff got in touch with a community group in the area, who secured a volunteer to walk the lady’s dog.
  • Elderly lady in Mintlaw who had a broken washing machine. Hub staff managed to her in touch with a local charitable group who sorted her out with a washing machine and fitted it. They passed on, “I called her today to see how she is getting on with the machine – she says she is loving it and was able to do a load of laundry this morning for the first time in a long while.”
  • Staff at the hub followed up calls with an individual who has required repeat support from the Hub. He has required food parcels as well as other assistance and was matched with a volunteer. That individual got in touch to say “He wanted me to pass on how grateful he and his partner are to everyone for all the assistance that they have been given and to let us know how much their food parcels have meant to them.”

Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson from Police Scotland chairs the multi-agency Local Resilience Partnership (LRP), who oversee the work of the Assistance Hub. He said: “Behind every figure is a person in real need. Someone who is not sure where to turn to get help and advice. For many this Assistance Hub is a useful channel, but for those people it is a lifeline. I take great pride in the work of the team who set up and run the Hub and owe a debt of gratitude to the volunteers and businesses. It is becoming a well-worn phrase, but these really are unprecedented times. Through the work of this Assistance Hub I can see the very best team working and partnership with one single objective, helping people at their time of need.”

In a recent letter to all the volunteers who signed up to help via the Assistance Hub, Prof. Amanda Croft, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, said: “When the Grampian Assistance Hub was launched last month, few could have predicted the remarkable response we have received from the people of the North East. I’m pleased to say that you have come forward in extraordinary numbers to protect our NHS and support those most in need. Over 3,000 individuals or groups across Grampian have now registered to offer support in their communities. That is incredible. The spirit and enthusiasm shown by people from all walks of life is truly inspirational. I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has come forward: we owe each one of you a huge debt of gratitude.”

Coronavirus COVID-19 – local volunteers

Friends, neighbours

If you are involved or want to be involved, please consider this mutual aid group. Register your local group or find a group to join and help.

Please stay safe.

Cllr Paul Johnston
Democratic Independent
Aberdeenshire Council


US Vice President Henry A. Wallace

“The really dangerous American fascist… is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power… They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

~quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944”



There are just a few days left to respond to Aberdeenshire Council’s transport survey. The Council is doing a ‘clean sheet’ consultation about services and what is required by Aberdeenshire’s citizens.

Please click on the link below to the Aberdeenshire Council Transport survey. The closing date is next Monday 9th December 2019. So people still have time to give their valuable view on the future of Bus Services in Aberdeenshire.

Cllr Paul Johnston
Democratic Independent
Aberdeenshire Council


Some things can be said simply.

p.s. This post can refer to local as well as national leadership.

%d bloggers like this: