'Deep divisions' over new homes at beach eco-village
Fears expansion plans will destroy tranquillity and rare wildlife in Moray community.
By Iain Ramage
It's a beach-based community built on a platform of harmony and spiritual well-being.
Findhorn Foundation eco-village in Moray has a population of around 400 residents, who produce their own food and energy, and spend their own currency.
But those who live there say "deep divisions" have been sewn by plans for 40 new homes.
They fear expansion will destroy the village's tranquillity and rare wildlife.
And after 60 objections were lodged with the local council, they now want urgent intervention to halt the bulldozers.
Architects say expanding the village was always on the agenda, but residents fear the single access route into the site will threaten human safety and cost endangered species their habitat.
Annie Crawford, who lives in the eco-village, said: "People have taken things to heart, there's been conflict on a very deep personal level with people.
"It's thrown up a lot of division about finances - the haves and have-nots - and that isn't the kind of environment we would choose to live in."
'It's thrown up a lot of division about finances - the haves and have-nots - and that isn't the kind of environment we would choose to live in'Annie Crawford
Critics have branded some of the proposed upmarket homes "eco mansions" because of their size.
The next planned phase will see 38 more homes built alongside three craft studios.
Former Findhorn Foundation member Daphne Francis said: "I dearly love the ethos of the foundation, but I don't think this is helping that reputation.
"It's not been properly processed through the planning side of things nor has it properly consulted local people."
While expanding the eco village was never going to be easy, the developer - Duneland - pointed out that it was part of a long-term planning strategy.
Spokesman Greg Paul said: "The original vision for this community was as a 'city of light'.
'Findhorn eco village is no Utopia. It's not perfect. There's many things around here which I'd have liked to have been done differently'Karl Jay-Lewin
"It was, in my view, not implied in that mandate that this remain a small caravan park for a very limited number of people, and that the work here would have the opportunity to grow and to expand out."
Many residents relish the prospect of expansion, including Karl Jay-Lewin, who has lived there for 20 years and runs a dance company operation that employs six full-time staff.
He said: "Findhorn eco village is no Utopia. It's not perfect, there's many things around here which I'd have liked to have been done differently.
"What it has done is use spirit and drive of experimentation and looking for alternatives and that requires taking on and taking notice of everybody's concerns and questions."
A spokesman for Moray Council said all planning applications are considered on their individual merits, with the Findhorn project due for debate this summer.