JHP Transport

A Scottish transport company is threatening to move its business south of the border after the council claimed it had been operating illegally for four years.

Chilled and ambient haulier JHP Transport in Rigside, south west Scotland, told motortransport.co.uk it would move its 130-strong workforce and 31 HGVs if South Lanarkshire Council did not see sense and grant it retrospective planning permission.

Problems began when the council discovered that the company had not applied for a change in use of the land, from agricultural to storage and distribution and therefore it would have to apply for planning permission.

Jillian Slater, JHP Transport financial controller, said it thought correcting the mistake would just be “a paperwork exercise”.

However, the council then said they would refuse the application on the grounds that the company was operating at night and there were noise issues.

Slater said: “We have had no complaints about noise.

“The council said they’d be willing to pass it if we were just working during the day, not at night.

“But that’s no good for us, it’s a 24:7 operation, 365 days a year!

“It’s really not practical.”

Slater added that its application was officially refused at a committee meeting earlier this week and it is now appealing in the hope that “common sense will prevail”.

She said: “It’s one of the most deprived areas of Scotland, there’s hardly any industry here at all.

“It’s a very rural area, jobs are hard to find.

“Nobody wants us to move, we are hoping we don’t have to, but obviously if there’s enforcement action then [director] Mr Prentice says he will take the jobs out of Lanarkshire.

“I think the staff will try and come with us, but it depends on the distance they will have to travel.”

A spokesperson for the council said a noise impact assessment showed that several nearby properties were affected by HGVs passing in the night.

“In addition, lorry movements to and from the site have already caused significant damage to the public road and it has been concluded that road widening and strengthening would be needed if the company were to remain at the site,” the spokesperson said. “The company has failed to acknowledge both their role in damaging the road and the need to carry out improvements.

“We understand the economic benefits of the business but the site at Townhead Farm is not the right one for this type of use. Nevertheless, we remain committed to helping the business remain in the local area.

The spokesperson added: “The council has written to the operator to allow them to investigate proposals to address the reasons for refusing the application before formal enforcement action is taken.

“Anxious to safeguard jobs, the council has given the company longer than would normally be the case to lay out their plans before taking formal enforcement

“Officers have discussed several options over the last four years and they are still considered appropriate.”