On 18 February we received the very welcome news that Scottish Ministers will once again refuse Cemex permission to quarry the area around the Falls of Clyde, which form part of the Buffer Zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Site.
The less controversial “southern extension” outside this area, to which we did not object, will be allowed, subject to the agreement of planning conditions. In this regard it will be important to ensure that the setting of Boathaugh is protected.
This takes us back to the position in 2015, when Ministers first ruled against the extension into the Buffer Zone. Then Cemex led UNESCO to believe that it accepted the decision, only for the company to launch a last-minute appeal to the Court of Session. The Scottish Government did not contest this, and the case was referred back to a Reporter and another public hearing was held in February 2018.
Ministers’ decision means that Cemex’ appeal has wasted thousands of pounds of its shareholders’ money, the taxpayers’ money, and the money of the objector’s group, and has achieved precisely nothing, other than to harden public and political opposition to the scheme.
Meanwhile the area around the Falls of Clyde has been neglected.
Outside the SWT reserve the effect of the quarry application has been to blight initiatives to improve footpaths or take other initiatives to enhance the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape.
In 2013 the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) told us that our proposals for a new footpath would have to wait the outcome of the quarry case.
But CAVLP has come and gone. That opportunity has been missed – although there will be others.
We hope that Cemex is now prepared to give up on its ever more unpopular campaign against Scotland’s heritage and communities. However, it has issued a rather sniffy statement complaining bitterly about the outcome and stating that it is considering its options, including legal action.
So we shall have to wait and see – something that we have become used to.