Appin quarry dispute over need for sand
There is a campaign to block quarrying in Glen Creran.
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’.