A businessman has hit back at South Lanarkshire Council planners over distillery plans.

A businessman claims he's getting a rum deal over plans to build a state-of-the art distillery on stilts on the banks of the River Clyde.
The image of the cafe in planning papers show a stilt construction buildingThe image of the cafe in planning papers show a stilt construction building
The image of the cafe in planning papers show a stilt construction building

Neil Pringle says the "spectacular" development will create 33 jobs and be a major boost to tourism in Lanarkshire.

But he believes council planners are determined to blow the ambitious scheme out of the water.

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Pringle, 55, now intends to bypass South Lanarkshire Council's planning process and go directly to the Scottish Government to seek approval.

He says Clyde Valley Distillery would - uniquely - use water from the Clyde to produce 75,000 litres of rum a year.

Images show a building, including a cafe and a visitor centre, on stilts on the river flood plain.

The site sits just off the A72 near Garrion Bridge on Clyde Valley Tourist Route and Pringle predicts it would attract 70,000 visitors each year.

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Plans were lodged with the council last month but Pringle was shocked to learn that the authority considers the site 'undeveloped', meaning the distillery is unlikely to get Scottish Environment Protection Agency backing because of flood risk rules.

There is a presumption against building on flood plains unless development has taken place previously.

Pringle, who acquired the land in 2015, said he has used it for farming purposes, including keeping geese and growing silage.

A large pond was created, a wildflower meadow sown and large quantities of soil extracted..

He said: "No way can anyone say that site is undeveloped.

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"I'm not going to wait to have the council decide against me.

"There is an option whereby I can appeal directly to the Scottish Government if an application is not determined by a council, and that's exactly what I intend to now do with this.

"I've spent £60,000 on the application so far and an appeal would add another £20,000, but if anyone thinks I'm bowing down to this they are stark, raving mad."

Planning consultant Derek Scott, who is acting for Pringle, said it was "astonishing" that the local authority had described the site as undeveloped.

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In an email to the council, he wrote: "There have been numerous acts of development - accesses, roads, land raising, a 100-metre long pond and agricultural buildings."

Scott added that calling the land undeveloped is "at best a serious error and at worst a deliberate attempt to mislead, misdirect and unduly influence the outcome of SEPA's consultation in response to our planning application".

Pringle has also obtained a legal opinion from Edinburgh law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn who have apparently said it's "clear" that the site is developed.

But a council planner from South Lanarkshire Council said he has visited the site and in his report said he saw "no evidence of current agricultural use", only "piles of waste and debris".

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In an email to the applicant, the council official insisted: "The local authority remains of the position that the site is no longer agricultural land and instead principally constitutes undeveloped land with no established use."

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