It looks as if a decision made today in the Court of Session will unlock the key to a chain of events which could lead to the development of a major milk processing plant near Stirling.
The Court, the highest authority in the land, has overturned a Scottish Government decision which was one to remove blocking the project.
Graham’s the Family Dairy began planning the construction of a new dairy at Hill of Drip, on the western outskirts of Stirling, five years ago.
It was to replace the original and now rather cramped premises at Airthrey Kerse, which lies between Bridge of Allan and Stirling.
The project relied on funding from the sale of the Aithrey Kerse farmland for housing, with building firm Mactaggart & Mickel identified as partners.
The planning application and subsequent appeals were however all rejected by Stirling Council and then Scottish Government.
Local objections had been made about the loss of the narrow band of green land between Stirling and the up-market village of Bridge of Allan.
Doubts were also expressed about the suitability of relatively low lying land for housing.
The Court of Session decision is significant. While it does not in itself confer planning permission for the housing it does mean Stirling Council has to look afresh at the proposals.
If permission is granted it should allow Graham’s The Family Dairy to embark on the ambitious plans for the Hill of Drip site. The development is projected to deliver 550 jobs including 50 apprenticeships.
The family-owned third generation business is Scotland’s largest privately owned dairy business, processing milk from 110 farmer suppliers. Turnover is just over £100 million annually.
Managing director Robert Graham said: “Today’s decision in the Cour of Session means we are still in the game as regards gaining planning permission for Airthrey Kerse.
“Scottish Government’s flawed decision last summer effectively killed off our investment plans but now they are alive again.
“Taking on the government has been a very high hurdle for a family business to tackle so I am very pleased with the result.”