Ap­pin quarry dis­pute over need for sand

There is a cam­paign to block quar­ry­ing in Glen Cr­eran.

The Oban Times - - News -

THE op­pos­ing sides in a row over a planned quarry in Glen Cr­eran near Ap­pin are split on the cru­cial ques­tion of whether there is a short­age of lo­cal build­ing sand.

The Argyll-based ap­pli­cant,A&L McCrae Ltd, which mines ag­gre­gates at Bar­rachan­der Quarry near Kilchre­nan, lodged a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion in Oc­to­ber to ex­tract and process sand and gravel at Glas­drum, in par­tic­u­lar high qual­ity build­ing sand for which, it ar­gues, there is a short­age in Argyll and Bute.

The Argyll and Bute Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Plan, it adds, al­lows a new quarry where there is a lo­cal need, de­fined as ‘pre­dom­i­nant use within a 30-mile ra­dius of the ex­trac­tion site’. Argyll and Bute Coun­cil’s plan­ning depart­ment wrote let­ters to five quar­ries in the lo­cal mar­ket area to de­ter­mine the avail­able prod­ucts for sale, and their replies were posted on the Quarry Protest group’s web­site.

Bon­nar Sand and Gravel at Cairn­dow found de­mand for fine build­ing sand had ‘de­clined’ to less than one per cent of its busi­ness, adding ‘it would be a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion should a new en­ter­prise re­duce the em­ploy­ment pool fur­ther’.

Lei­ths Scot­land, which op­er­ates a quarry at Dornie by Fort Wil­liam, was ‘more than ca­pa­ble of sup­ply­ing’ the max­i­mum an­nual de­mand of build­ing sand, with ‘sig­nif­i­cant re­serves’ and a new plant pro­duc­ing up to 500 tonnes per day.

Colin Hodge, who owns the quarry op­er­ated by Bree­don at Ben­der­loch, con­firmed his re­serve of more than one mil­lion tonnes of ‘eas­ily winnable sand and gravel’ in ‘all grades’, and a ‘lack of de­mand’ for ‘abun­dantly avail­able’ fine-grade build­ing sand. Bree­don and MacLeod Con­struc­tion of Lochgilp­head, which runs two Argyll quar­ries, also con­firmed they sup­ply build­ing sand.

The plan has so far gath­ered 1,500 ob­jec­tions, and the Quarry Protest group has com­mis­sioned and pub­lished an ‘ex­pert re­port’ by Philip Lea, di­rec­tor of engi- neer­ing con­sul­tants John­son, Poole and Bloomer, which con­cluded: ‘There can be no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of need for an ad­di­tional quarry,’ since ‘ the de­mand for build­ing sand is lim­ited and it is cur­rently and will con­tinue to be met from ex­ist­ing sources’.

In re­sponse, A&LM cC rae re­sponded with a 30-page re­port. Man­ager Calum McCrae ar­gued ‘rep­re­sen­ta­tion from lo­cal con­trac­tors has clearly demon­strated a lo­cal need for build­ing sand.

‘An ex­am­ple arose dur­ing the up­grade of an Argyll and Bute Coun­cil sports pitch in Oban re­cently, where high qual­ity sand could not be sourced lo­cally and was there­fore im­ported into Argyll from La­nark­shire in ar­tic­u­lated bulk­ers. This was at a huge cost to Argyll and Bute Coun­cil and in turn the tax­pay­ers. The test­ing of the sand at Glas­drum has proven it is high qual­ity and could have been used for this project.’

Mr McCrae said that, within the two lo­cal quar­ries clos­est to Glas­drum, ‘Ben­der­loch does not pro­duce build­ing sand and North Con­nel has a very small sup­ply which is in­suf­fi­cient to meet lo­cal needs’. The re­main­ing quar­ries at Dornie, Kil­martin and Clachan, he added, ‘en­tail HGV road haulage for sig­nif­i­cant dis­tances with the associated en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts and ad­di­tional costs to con­sumers.

‘Ev­i­dence from lo­cal con­trac­tors shows that, due to lack of lo­cal avail­abil­ity, build­ing sand is also cur­rently im­ported from quar­ries out­with Argyll and Bute at even greater dis­tance than those iden­ti­fied above. Whereas the Quarry Protest group re­port is pred­i­cated on the con­tin­ued sup­ply of the mar­ket from ex­ces­sive dis­tance, the pro­posed Glas­drum quarry would pro­vide a lo­cal sup­ply.’

But pro­test­ers hailed ‘proof’ there is ‘ no re­quire­ment for any more sand or gravel in the area’. One Glen Cr­eran res­i­dent, Tony Ker­s­ley, ar­gued the plan amounted to ‘a gravel quarry in “dis­guise”, in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion with Bree­don in Ben­der­loch’.

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