A FLAGPOLE flying a Saltire in tribute to war soldiers will stay in place after councillors granted retrospective planning permission.

Moray Council’s local review body met on Thursday and councillors granted retrospective planning permission for the near-15ft mast by one vote.

The move goes against a previous decision taken by Moray Council officers to reject it.

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

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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.

They said it failed to preserve or enhance the conservation area and was visually intrusive and that the pole did not adhere to high design standards.

Senior planning officer Lisa MacDonald told members the application related to the pole, not any flag flying from it.

Findhorn and Kinloss Community Council had objected to the appeal. They felt the location was insensitive and disrespectful and offence could be caused by flags flown on it.

But a petition on the pole in the grounds of the home gained more than 100 signatures in favour of keeping it.

Forres councillor Paul McBain disagreed with officer recommendations to refuse the appeal.

He said: “I don’t feel it’s an eyesore whatsoever.”

McBain added the same type of flag pole is used at Edinburgh Castle and Bannockburn visitor centre.

Collective village message Buckie councillor Sonya Warren backed the move to approve.

She said: “I don’t know why this flag pole is causing such a concern.

“It’s on the verge of the conservation area. And I don’t think it contravenes any planning regulations”.

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Forres councillor Draeyk Van Der Horn disagreed and said: “If this flag pole is accepted, any flag could fly there including Mickey Mouse.”

Van Der Horn felt its proximity to the war memorial and the entrance to the conservation area could be seen to “send a collective village message”.

He was seconded by chairman Marc Macrae.

Macrae said: “This is not a matter about a flag. I think the only flag banned from being flown is that of ISIS.

“It is important that we look after our conservation areas to help protect character. And we have a police for a very firm reason on that.”

There were also concerns the flag pole added to an already cluttered streetscape.

But the appeal to keep the flag pole was approved by four votes to 3. There were no abstentions.