Scottish Ministers have confirmed that they will reject Cemex’s application to extend Hyndford Quarry into the Buffer Zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Site at the Falls of Clyde.
The application had been approved by South Lanarkshire Council in December 2013, despite more than 11,500 objection letters and opposition from an array of community and heritage organisations, including Save Our Landscapes and the New Lanark Trust.
Ministers called-in the application in January 2014, and it was re-considered by Reporters during a public hearing in August. The Reporters submitted their recommendations to Ministers in February 2015, and Ministers issued their decision on 26th June.
Ministers indicated that they will reject the proposed ‘western extension’ (which lies within the Buffer Zone), but allow the proposed smaller southern extension (which lies outwith the Buffer Zone and to which the principal opposition group did not object). This overturned the Reporters’ recommendation to approve the entire application.
The announcement was made in a brief ‘letter of intent’. This does not constitute the legal decision on the application which has yet to be issued. The decision letter will detail the reasons why Ministers have decided to reject the proposed western extension. Meanwhile, Ministers asked the Reporters to draw up conditions for the approval of the southern extension only. These were subject to representations by the main parties during August.
Whilst Cemex will have the right to challenge the legality of the final decision in the Court of Session, it cannot challenge the decision itself, only the manner by which it has been reached. It is notable that Ministers issued their notification four months after they had received the Reporters’ recommendation. This would suggest that much effort has been devoted to ensuring that the decision is procedurally sound.
Presumably with the Overburns case in mind, some people have suggested that Cemex might submit a second application. (Overburns is the site of another contentious quarry application, where the applicant has indicated that it will submit another application despite the rejection of two previous applications for the same site.)
This is possible but only after two years has elapsed from the pending decision. However, there are very significant differences between the two cases in terms of the circumstances and the planning policies which apply.
It might be recalled that in 2013, Cemex stated ‘We will await the outcome of our planning application and abide by its findings.’ Further, Cemex described the current application as being a ‘one-off opportunity.’
Whilst vigilance is always required, there are good grounds for expecting this to be the end of the matter.
This entry is by Mark Stephens (Chair, Save Our Landscapes), and is based on a letter co-authored by Graham U’ren RTPI (Trustee, New Lanark Trust) which was published in the Lanark Gazette on 29th July 2015.