By Zoë Keown
DESPITE an estimated fortune of £42 million, the Earl of Mansfield has been unable to halt a children’s home being built on land neighbouring his estate.
One of Scotland’s richest landowners, Lord Mansfield, 79, was unable to persuade the government that the site was unsuitable because it presented a risk to the children’s safety.
The former Scottish Office minister and owner of Scone Palace in Perthshire fought against plans for the facility, which will give therapeutic care to children with challenging behaviour.
He argued it would be dangerous for young people with learning problems to be next to a working farm and shooting estate.
But ministers have given the green light for family firm Tus Nua Child Care to look after problem children at Kindrum House in Logiealmond.
A letter to the government on behalf of Mansfield read: “Safety is taken very seriously on the estate but potentially hazardous activities do take place involving large machinery for forestry operations, shooting and farming activities.
“While risk assessments are carried out and risks reduced as far as practically possible, there is surely an increased danger having children with recognised behaviour difficulties located in this immediate vicinity, a risk the land-owner and farm tenant are seeking to mitigate from an operational perspective.
“It is a concern to note that ‘young people who are presenting challenging behaviour’ could be sited within such close proximity to an active agricultural holding, other estate/rural operations such as sporting and forestry and within a higher-risk natural environment.”
The Scottish Government ruled the objections to be groundless in a written judgement.
Michael Shiel, the planning reporter appointed by the Scottish ministers wrote: “While I understand the concerns expressed, no evidence has been presented by the local farmer, Mansfield Estates, or others to demonstrate that children at the care home would be at grater risk, or create greater problems for the safe and efficient operation of the farm, than would arise from its use as a family house.
“The staff caring for the children would have no less responsibility for their safety and behaviour than the parents of the children living in the house.”
Foster carer, Lynda Reid called the decision a “clear victory for common sense.”
Reid, who will run the home when it opens, said: “Once we have moved in I hope they will find their fears were groundless and we are in fact the best of neighbours.”
The care home is set to be opened later this year.
Perth and Kinross Council initially rejected the plans for the home.
But it was approved by the Scottish ministers after an appeal by Campbell Smith, the owner of Kindrum House at Logiealmond, where the home will be based.
Scone Palace did not respond to requests for comment.