Hyndford Quarry Decision: Update
Scottish Ministers have finally published their decision to refuse planning permission to extend mineral extraction into the buffer zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Site. Are the questions raised in July 2015 by BEFS Director, Euan Leitch, answered?
Details of the planning scenario are outlined below in a previous blog but it has taken 18 months for the decision to be issued. Briefly, permission for the the gravel quarry to extend into the buffer zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Site for a period of 8 years followed by restoration was deemed acceptable by South Lanarkshire Council and Historic Scotland (now Historic Environment Scotland) in the face of local and international opposition. The Directorate of Planning and Environmental Appeals also found the planning application to be consistent with national and local planning policies and recommended approval. The Notice of Intention to refuse permission was taken while Alex Neil MSP held the position of Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, but the deision was published with Angela Constance MSP now taking up that role, albeit with Kevin Stewart MSP leading on planning issues as Minister for Local Government & Housing.
The reason for refusal by Ministers given is:
For clarity, paragraph 235 of Scottish Planning Policy under the heading of Promoting Responsible Extraction of Resources reads:
235. The planning system should:
- recognise the national benefit of indigenous coal, oil and gas production in maintaining a diverse energy mix and improving energy security;
- safeguard workable resources and ensure that an adequate and steady supply is available to meet the needs of the construction, energy and other sectors;
- minimise the impacts of extraction on local communities, the environment and the built and natural heritage; and
- secure the sustainable restoration of sites to beneficial afteruse after working has ceased.
Scottish Ministers therefore found 8 years to be too long a temporary period of adverse disruption to the World Heritage Site’s buffer zone, part of the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape, that was not outweighed by a slight shortfall in the supply of aggregates. It should also be noted that the western extension of the quarry would not have resulted in a significant increase in employment.
The question previously asked was why the local and national government agencies were at odds with Scottish Ministers in their interpretation of national planning policies? Perhaps they are best left to answer but 8 years of disruption is a long time to a local community and in politics, particularly when there is little wider economic gain.
Scottish Ministers have published a Notice of Intention for the planning application to extend mineral extraction into the buffer zone of the New Lanark World Heritage Site. BEFS Director, Euan leitch, looks at how the decision was arrived at. First published 6th July 2015
Sand and gravel extraction has been taking place from a site east of New Lanark on the banks of the Clyde since the 1960s and in 2012 CEMEX UK submitted a planning application to extend operations 20 hectares southwards and 22 hectares westwards. The western extension would eat into the Bonnington Estate, part of the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape, which is the buffer zone for the New Lanark World Heritage Site.
South Lanarkshire Council deemed the proposals compatible with the strategic and local development plan policies and Historic Scotland accepted that while it would have an adverse impact upon an inventory landscape it would not impact upon the outstanding univesal value of the world heritage site. Local people, Save Our Landscapes, the New Lanark Trust, the Garden History Society in Scotland (now Scotland’s Garden and Landscape Heritage) and the UK Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites disagreed with these findings and asked Scottish Ministers to call-in the planning application for independant scrutiny. Scottish Ministers agreed to a call-in and two Scottish Government reporters were assigned to the case and a hearing held over 3 days in August 2014.
The reporters submitted their report to Scottish Ministers in February of this year but it has just been made public along with Ministerial direction on June 26th. The report agreed with South Lanarkshire Council and Historic Scotland:
Having regard to the provisions of the development plan, and other statutory duties, the reporters’ conclude that there is a shortfall in the 10 year land bank of minerals in South Lanarkshire, and that the proposed development would:
- contribute to an identified shortfall in the supply of minerals;
- preserve, protect and enhance the character, integrity and quality of the NewLanark World Heritage Site and its setting (and its Outstanding Universal Value);
- protect, preserve and enhance the Falls of Clyde Designed Landscape;
- safeguard listed buildings, their settings, and any features of special interest they possess;
- preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the New Lanark and Falls of Clyde Conservation Area;
- protect scheduled ancient monuments and their settings;
- not adversely affect the overall quality of special landscape areas;
- not harm flora and fauna;
- stimulate the rural economy; and
- provide an acceptable restoration scheme.
Overall, the reporters’ find that the proposed development complies with the provisions of the development plan. They considered all the material and arguments submitted (as outlined in the summaries of case) but find that none lead them to a different recommendation.
The reporters therefore recommended that Scottish Ministers grant planning permsion subject to conditions.
The Notice of Intention finds otherwise. Scottish Ministers agree that the southward extension of the mineral workings would not impact upon the setting of the world heritage site (as did the other objectors) and is in line with planning policies but:
Turning to the western extension, Scottish Ministers note the reporters’ assertion in paragraph 9.38 that even if there was to be an impact on the WHS’s setting that it would be for a temporary period (up to eight years) while operations were carried out in the western extension, during which progressive restoration would be undertaken. Scottish Ministers are, however, of the view that disturbance of at least 8 years before positive restoration in the western extension (largely within the World Heritage Site buffer zone) is unacceptable and is not outweighted by the need for a supply of minerals, which is only marginally short. On that basis, Scottish Ministers consider that development in that part of the scheme should not be approved.
The report has therefore been returned to the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals “so that the reporters can advise them on what conditions or legal agreements would be appropriate in respect of a permission granted on that basis.” The option of only granting the southward extension had been considered by the reporters but they recommended that refusal would be preferable allowing CEMEX UK to apply for that seperately.
The planning application garnered substantial public interest with several thousand objections both online and through a petition, recieving extensive media coverage over the past couple of years. The outcome does raise some interesting questions: if the local authority, the Scotttish Government’s heritage agency (Historic Scotland) and the Scottish Government’s reporters (DPEA) all agreed that the planning application met with Scottish Planning Policy, the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Strategic Development Plan and the South Lanarkshire Local Plan, are the policies flawed? If not, why is their interpretation so at odds with local and international opinion? As the Scottish Government has signed off on the policies in these documents why is their interpretation also at odds with their own agencies?
Or is it just evidence that planning is political?
You can find full details of the appeal here.BACK