A TRANQUIL leafy corner of Kilmacolm has become the setting for a major fall-out between two neighbours over the erection of a state-of-the-art new Huf Haus home.

Steve Garven and Dr Robin Smyllie have been at loggerheads for years amid a series of claims and counter claims after council planners approved the project, which is thought be costing in excess of £500,000.

The former 'friendly' neighbours have not been on speaking terms since work began on 74-year-old widower Dr Smyllie's palatial new residence, which Mr Garven says has left his home filled with 'acrid smoke' on three occasions from the burning of bushes and trees during site clearance work.

He also says that heavy machinery has been repeatedly cranked up before dawn and that environmental health officers have consistently failed to enforce a permitted hours restriction on contractors.

However, Dr Smyllie has described Mr Garven's claims as 'a load of nonsense' and insists that he has abided by every stipulation laid down by the council.

The retired civil engineer said: "When I told him I was doing this [project] he said, 'Oh I wish I could knock my house down and build a Huf Haus, I'd love that'.

"But as soon as I started clearing the site, that's when all this started.

"I used to go round and have a cup of coffee with him.

"We were never friends but we were friendly neighbours."

Mr Garven, a civil and commercial disputes mediator, says that he only complained and called in the council when smoke billowed into his home.

He said: "When Robin first approached me, I wasn't happy, in all honesty, about the inconvenience as I saw it.

"But I supported it, I didn't object to the planning.

"We were very friendly previously."

Mr Garven added: "That whole area next door was just rhododendrons and trees and he pulled it all to the middle, flung petrol on it and lit it, and all that smoke came into my house. That was two years ago."

Mr Garven says that the burning took place on a further two occasions — once when he was abroad.

He said: "Within five minutes of finding out I was away he got his contractor to light it again and my house was filled with acrid smoke once more."

Dr Smyllie is set to move in to the German designed and engineered Huf Haus in March, with no sign that the tensions between him and his Glen Moston Road neighbour will be quelled.

He said: "The smoke was essentially going upwards, but there was one point when there was a big cloud of it.

"Environmental health asked me to stop burning, so I stopped it.

"I never did it again.

"This thing him saying that I did three times is just a load of nonsense."

But Mr Garven said: "He had to bring a big pecker in and peck away at the bedrock and my house was vibrating.

"I phoned the council straight away, so they put restrictive hours on when the pecker could actually work.

"The lorry that arrived to lay the slab for the house to sit on set up literally right at my fence line and was revving loudly, lights flashing, at 6.20am."

Mr Garven added: "I've asked the question of the council, 'What does someone have to do for you to take action against them? Does it have to resort to violence?' and that's in my email."

He says he was told by the local authority that staff don't work at the times he was complaining about and are on duty only between 9am until 4.30pm.

Mr Garven said: "So there is no point in enforcement action at all. They have no control."

However Dr Smyllie says he has 'put up with a lot and kept my mouth shut' as the dispute escalates.

He told the Tele: "With regard to the pecker, the council said to try not to start it before 9am and try and stop it before 4pm, so that's what we did.

"But that wasn't good enough for Mr Garven.

"He complained that the dishes in his display cabinet were vibrating.

"So up came the environmental health with their monitoring equipment and there was no problem.

"I'm at a total loss as to why he's doing this."

Dr Smyllie added: "For me now, life's too short.

"I just don't want to cause any hassle, and I don't want any hassle coming my way either.

"What's the point?"

Inverclyde Council says Mr Garven's point about a lack of enforcement action is without foundation and that his complaints cannot be substantiated.

A spokesman said: "The claim that the council is failing to act because local authority staff don't begin work until 9am and don't work beyond 5pm is completely wrong.

"Most noise complaints happen outside office hours so the council's environmental and public protection service operates an out-of-office hours service to investigate complaints around-the-clock.

"The council has invested a great deal of time and effort in trying to resolve Mr Garven's complaints but there is insufficient evidence to uphold them or to issue a statutory notice about the work that is being done."