Cattle market decision expected

The fate of a new £10m Scottish cattle market was to be decided today in a council meeting dedicated to the issue, following four years of controversy and design changes.

United Auctions (UA), one of Scotland's main livestock auc-tioneers, wants to build a new mart in Stirling, replacing the 40-year-old mart at a site in Kildean, which is falling into disrepair. The site of the proposed new market, Hill of Drip, has been contentious because it is a scenic area.

But Neil McLean, group managing director of UA, said he was optimistic about the plans being passed by the council, despite the difficulties. "The indication from the development management planner last Thursday was very positive in resolving the last outstanding detail involving the application," he said.

"It has been a lengthy process but it is a measure of the magnitude of this type of application. It's a £10m development and over 300 jobs are at stake. It's not just important for Stirling, but also for Scottish agriculture."

A protest group called Blaidrummond Against the Mart, or BAM, has challenged the plans and delayed progress, but McLean said much has been done to appease objectors: "We've made several changes, involving minimising the impact on the landscape, moving the building back from the main road, changing the design of the building and giving it a more central location on the site."

The Stirling location is considered central and accessible. If approved, site plans will be referred to the Scottish Executive, which will decide when building can begin.

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