Cemex’s decision to make a legal challenge to Scottish Ministers’ decision to reject its application to extend Hyndford Quarry into the Buffer Zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Site and the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape is as baffling as it is disappointing.
Scottish Ministers first issued notification of their intended decision in June 2015, in the light of which Cemex issued the following statement: “Cemex unequivocally recognizes that World Heritage sites are no go areas for extractive activities, and nothing in either the sites or their Buffer Zones must interfere with their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) nor impinge in any way on their setting.”
The company went on to state in relation to the Hyndford application:
“Cemex acknowledges the recent decision of Scottish Ministers and is committed to working together with the Ministers, the local authority, relevant NGOs and other interested parties to ensure the ongoing best interests of the World Heritage site, its OUV and setting.”
UNESCO welcomed both Scottish Ministers’ decision and what it called Cemex’s “unequivocal new commitment.”
We had been looking forward to working not only for the protection but for the enhancement of the Buffer Zone and in particular to improve access to and appreciation of the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape – the very area that Cemex proposed to quarry. We organised the successful “Celebration of the Falls of Clyde” weekend event in August which gained the support of a range of community groups and businesses to provide a series of expert talks and guided walks to the public.
With the help of the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership, we have been working towards more lasting opportunities to appreciate just how important are the Falls of Clyde and their setting to the history of the Royal Burgh of Lanark and of New Lanark, understanding the processes of the late glacial era which formed our landscape, the values of the Enlightenment, the development of landscape design and visual arts and to literary references which have all become famous far beyond our local area.
We had hoped that Cemex would be good to its word and would work with us to achieve these goals, demonstrating its commitment both to corporate responsibility and the community in Lanark.
Instead, Cemex’s decision to do the exact opposite of what it promised, means that yet more time and money will be expended on a court battle which cannot even grant them the permission they want but (at most) only send the case back to another drawn out repeat of the 2014 public hearing.
And to what end?
At the 2014 hearing, Cemex did not contest independent expert estimations of sand and gravel reserves in excess of 500 million tonnes in South Lanarkshire.
So why Cemex’s obsession with quarrying 3 million tonnes in an area that enjoys designations indicating both its national and international importance?
Why persist with an application that attracted record levels of public opposition – from across Lanarkshire, Scotland and indeed the world?
We trust that Scottish Ministers will defend this action with the utmost vigour.
NEW LANARK AND FALLS OF CLYDE WORKING GROUP
Published in the Lanark Gazette, 25 January 2017