CONSERVATIVE councillors threw their weight behind local communities to protect scenic countryside from being devastated by a proposed quarry. It was the latest twist in a near decade-long attempt to get permission for large-scale sand and gravel extraction on the banks of the Clyde and in the shadow of Tinto.
South Lanarkshire Council’s Planning Committee was asked to approve a new application for the quarry on Tuesday (1 May). Clydesdale East’s Tory councillors Alex Allison and Eric Holford, and SNP councillor Ian McAllan, appeared before the committee and urged elected members of all parties to reject the bid.
Cllr Allison said: “There is simply no public support for this quarry. We need to recognise a small community has raised £134,000 to fight the plans and submitted over 1,000 letters of objection.
“This development would likely ruin one of the most scenic parts of South Lanarkshire. Even after the 10 years of work finished, it would leave behind a clearly man-made lake visibly different from the surrounding landscape and detracting from the natural environment.
“This is the wrong site for a quarry. It is not wanted, it is not needed, and there are sound planning reasons for rejecting it.”
Situated in a 34 hectare section of the Upper Clyde Valley and Tinto Special Landscape Area, the quarry would have fundamentally altered the character of the area,. It would also have endangered river-life and threatened local businesses.
The 10 year operation to dig more than three million tonnes of material would have seen 44 lorries a day carry sand and gravel through the rural communities. Proposal to fill the excavated land with water was said to risk creating an ideal breading-ground for invasive river species, which could devastate fish populations within the Clyde following any flooding.
Residents of the area have fought the plans since they were first submitted in 2009. Fears were high this latest bid to get approval would succeed however, after planning officers recommended they be accepted.
Cllr Holford told the committee: “This application is an attempt to wear down the community. Despite being rejected in two previous applications, a full hearing with the Scottish Government reporter, and in a judicial review, here it is back again.
“It seems there is a determination to grind down local opposition and the council’s resources. Elected representatives need to hold their nerve and reject it again. The community has had to live with the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads for nine years and that threat needs to be relieved once and for all.”
Elected representatives held firm and refused the latest application by 20 votes to two, with all five of the committee’s Conservative councillors among those voting to reject the plan. The decision was met with applause from residents who had gathered to watch proceedings.
Similar applications were rejected by the council 2010 and 2012, with appeals to overturn councillors’ decision rejected by both the Scottish Government and the Court of Session.
PICTURE: Simon Butterworth