A COUPLE who erected a Saltire flagpole in tribute to war soldiers have appealed an order to remove it after being refused planning permission.

Moray Council told Craig and Andrea Robertson to remove the 14ft pole after it was installed in their front garden in Findhorn in April last year – however, the couple have now appealed the decision.

They were told by council officials that planning permission for the Saltire flagpole – positioned near a war memorial – had been rejected following objections by two neighbours and the local community council, and primarily based on its size.

The pair had previously submitted plans for their garden work, at their home named Alba, and had received the green light.

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Locals told Moray Council that they had concerns about how close the flagpole was to the village war memorial, which is in a conservation area.

The couple have now appealed the decision so they can keep the flagpole and continue flying the Saltire.

The memorial is separated from the property by a fence and narrow stretch of pavement.

Findhorn and Kinloss Community Council described the pole as “insensitive and disrespectful”, writing: “The flagpole occupies a prominent site at the entrance to the old village and any flag flown could be viewed as a collective, village message which is thought to be unacceptable.”

Another also called the plans “insensitive” and described the pole as “grandiose”.

However, more than 134 people have signed a petition supporting the appeal and this has been submitted to the council.

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Those who signed it have said the Saltire as “a delight to see”, a “welcome addition” to the area, and “totally appropriate”.

The family – who said they erected the pole as a tribute to Scots who had died serving their country – said they had been contacted by descendants of some named on the memorial. They have said it has been “comforting” to see the flag.

In its rejection, Moray Council said the size of the pole was “inappropriate” for the location, however the couple’s agent said they had requested advice on the size and received no response.

Agent Jane Shepherd added: “Without any definitive advice, my clients would be stabbing in the dark as to what might be acceptable.”

It is understood that a larger Saltire had flown previously.

Shepherd added: “The most prominent of these flagpoles is sited along the front, adjacent to the piers, upon which the Saltire flag displayed.

“It has clearly been consciously sited on a prominent, raised grass area in front of the Mercat Cross as a landmark and feature in the landscape.

“It is also of a much greater scale than that at [the house] and clearly visible from many vantage points along the bay and within Findhorn.

“Presumably, this flagpole was sanctioned by the council with the support of the Findhorn Community Council.

“Notwithstanding this, its existence demonstrates that no harm is caused to the conservation area or landscape neither from this official flagpole nor the many others in the village.”

An appeal hearing is due on Thursday.