This page contains various superquarry updates
Scottish Executive (Parliament) REJECTS
Proposed Lafarge Redland Aggregates Ltd Harris Superquarry; Lafarge then force
On 3 November 2000 the Scottish Executive rejected
Lafarge's bid to open a superquarry in the National Scenic Area on the
Isle of Harris. The company announced they would appeal. On 18th March the
Executive stated they would not be contesting the appeal. The basis of
their rejection, they had decided, had been insufficiently robust in law.
It is said that this does not mean they have accepted the proposal, but it
does throw the issue wide open, once again. Full documentation of the
history of what has happened with the superquarry, including the corporate
sharpshooting and intense pressure on a small community which included a
police complaint about an alleged attempt to corrupt political process, is
given in my book, Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power (click
the tab above for further details). This page contains reports relevant to
this latest twist in the saga, as follows:
BBC's report on
Executive's press release and full reasons for quarry rejection
reopens - my comments
report on reopening of the issue
Gazette's report on the reopening, with local reaction
back on 1965 backdoor quarry bid
superquarry briefing page and index on this website
Rejection: report from the BBC's News Website, 3-11-00
Plans for a controversial superquarry on Harris have been rejected by the
The decision was announced by Environment Minister Sam Galbraith.
He refused Lafarge Redland Aggregates' application to extract and transport
rock from the site, saying that any economic benefits would not outweigh the
adverse impacts on the area round Lingerbay.
The decision, which has delighted environmental campaigners, comes more
than nine years after the plans were first lodged.
The controversial proposals were the subject of Scotland's longest public
And two weeks ago a judge ordered the Scottish
Executive to make a decision on the application following a legal challenge by
Lafarge Redland Aggregates.
The company asked the Court of Session in Edinburgh to force the executive to
make a decision after the then Environment Minister Sarah Boyack referred the
plan to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).
Ms Boyack was told to make a decision on the plans within three weeks after
Lord Hardie said the delay was of "scandalous proportions".
Announcing the decision on Friday, Mr Galbraith - who took over the
environment brief after Sunday's cabinet reshuffle - said the scenic quality of
the area was more important than economic and social considerations.
He also said that the public inquiry reporter, who recommended go ahead for
the scheme, seriously understated the impact of the proposed development.
The quarry company had applied to extract 550m tonnes of aggregate from
Roinvenall mountain over a 60-year period.
It was predicted that the project would create about 200 jobs.
The biggest development of its kind in the UK, it would have removed half the
mountain and created a new sea loch.
Opponents of the superquarry on South Harris are jubilant, and
environmentalists have congratulated the minister.
But supporters of the scheme have been left
disappointed, maintaining that it was the island's best hope for the future.
The Scottish National Party's Highlands and Islands spokesman Duncan Hamilton
welcomed the fact that a decision had finally been taken.
"The Court of Session judgement a few weeks ago was absolutely correct
when it described the delay as being of 'scandalous proportions'," he said.
"The people of Harris have been treated with disdain throughout this
process and the fact that the Scottish Executive had to be dragged into court to
be forced into making a decision is a matter of profound concern."
He said the focus must now to turn to efforts to provide other forms of
employment on Harris and the Western Isles.
"The loss of the proposed 200 jobs related to the quarry development
must be made good in other sectors," he said.
Scottish Executive (Parliament) Press Release
on Quarry Rejection
(with full reasons for superquarry
SE2846/2000, 3 November 2000
HARRIS SUPERQUARRY APPLICATION REFUSED
The Scottish Ministers today announced their decision to refuse
planning permission for the proposed development of a superquarry at
The decision was announced today by Environment Minister Sam
Galbraith in response to a parliamentary question by Rhoda Grant MSP for
the Highlands and Islands.
The reasons for this decision are set out in a letter to the
applicant, a copy of which has been sent today to all parties who
attended the public local inquiry into this proposal.
Any party aggrieved by the decision may appeal to the Court of
Session within six weeks. Given the possibility of such action can be
added to the reasons given in the decision letter.
1. Lafarge Redland Aggregates Ltd propose to establish a quarry at
Lingerbay to facilitate the extraction of an estimated 550 million
tonnes of igneous rock (anorthosite) for construction aggregate over a
period of 60 years. All export of aggregate would be by sea through an
on-site port facility.
2. A planning application was submitted to the Western Isles Island
Council on 25 March 1991. On 27 September 1991 the then Secretary of
State issued a Direction requiring the Council to notify him should the
Council be minded to grant planning permission. On 24 June 1993 the
Council informed the Secretary of State that they were minded to grant
planning permission. A Direction was issued on 6 January 1994 calling-in
the application for the Secretary of State's determination.
3. A public local inquiry was held between 1 October 1994 and 6 June
1995. The Reporter submitted her report to the Secretary of State on 29
April 1999. The Scottish Executive assumed responsibility for
considering the Reporter's report, and determining the application, on 1
4. On 12 July 2000 Scottish Natural Heritage was asked to provide
scientific advice about whether or not any part of the application site
should be identified as a Special Area of Conservation. On 2 August
Lafarge Redland Aggregates sought judicial review of that action and a
hearing took place between 11 and 13 September.
5. Lord Hardie, in answer to the petition, ruled, on 18 October,
- the respondents (the Scottish Ministers) are in breach of their
statutory duty by failing to determine the Lingerbay planning
application within a reasonable time.
- the decision by the respondents to refer the classification of the
site to SNH for advice in the context of the determination of the
planning application was ultra vires and,
- the respondents have acted in breach of Article 6 of the European
Convention on Human Rights in respect of the delay in determining
the application and the reference to Scottish Natural Heritage in
the context of the planning process.
6. The letter announcing the decision is attached.
Dear Mr Sales
TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING (SCOTLAND) ACT 1997
PROPOSED EXTRACTION, PROCESSING AND TRANSPORT BY SEA OF ANORTHOSITE
FROM LAND NEAR RODEL, ISLE OF HARRIS, AND TO CONSTRUCT THE RELEVANT
1. This letter contains the Scottish Ministers' decision on the
application for planning permission, lodged by Messrs Redlands
Aggregates Limited (now trading as Lafarge Redland Aggregates Limited)
with the Western Isles Islands Council on 25 March 1991, for the
extraction, processing and transport by sea of anorthosite from land
near Rodel, Isle of Harris, and to construct the relevant facilities.
The Scottish Ministers have decided to refuse to grant planning
2. The application was notified to the then Secretary of State, by
Western Isles Islands Council, on 28 June 1993, in accordance with the
Town and Country Planning (Notification of Application for the
extraction, processing and transport by sea of anorthosite from land
near Rodel, Isle of Harris and to construct the relevant facilities)
Direction 1991. In terms of Section 32 of the Town and Country Planning
(Scotland) Act 1972 the then Secretary of State directed Western Isles
Islands Council, on 6 January 1994, to refer the application to him for
determination. The Direction was given "in view of the existence of
a number of important national issues that need to be considered by the
Secretary of State (for example, the environmental implications
of such a development in a National Scenic Area)".
3. The application was subsequently considered at a public local
inquiry, held between 11 October 1994 and 6 June 1995 by Miss G M Pain
MA DipTP(Lon) MRTPI. A copy of the report of the inquiry is enclosed.
Evidence at the Inquiry
4. Evidence relating to the consideration of the planning application
is at Chapter 1 of the report and a general description of the site and
surroundings is at Chapter 2. The planning history of the Lingerbay site
is at Chapter 3 whilst legal submissions about the validity of the 1965
planning permission are reported at Chapter 4.
5. The evidence led by the parties to the inquiry is reported between
Chapters 5 and 23. Written submissions are summarised at Chapter 24 and
details of proposed conditions and the Agreement under Section 50 of the
Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 are at Chapter 25. Those
who attended the inquiry are listed in Appendix 1 to the report.
Consideration by the Reporter
6. A compilation of the Reporter's findings of fact is at Chapter 26
of the report. Her conclusions and recommendation that the application
should be approved, subject to the recommended conditions, is at Chapter
Post Inquiry Correspondence, Evidence etc
7. The Scottish Ministers have received post inquiry correspondence
from a number of individuals and bodies, both supporting and opposing
the proposed development Supporters have highlighted, amongst other
matters, the number of jobs the proposal is expected to create and the
benefits this will have for the economy which, in turn, should assist in
reducing the outflow of the economically active population from Harris.
Objectors have argued that there is evidence that alternative supplies
of aggregates are readily available and that demand is now low,
primarily because of a reduction in road-building. Amongst other issues
raised are the procedures to be followed with regard the development of
harbour facilities at Lingerbay and the proposed revision of the English
planning policy document "Mineral Planning Guideline No6", the
argument with regard to the latter being that any grant of planning
permission in the absence of a revised MPG6 would be premature and not
in the best interests of the local economy or the environment.
8. Correspondents have also drawn attention to legislative changes
arising since the close of the inquiry, including the introduction of
the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997; the Harbour Works
(Assessment of Environmental Effects) Amendment Regulations 1996; and
the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland)
Order 1997. Attention has also been drawn to the issue of a number of
new and revised planning circulars, guidelines and advice notes, in
particular SODD Circulars 12 and 34 of 1996; 25 of 1997 and 4 of 1998;
National Planning Policy Guidelines (NPPG) 4, 14, 15 and 17; the
consultative draft version of revised NPPG1; and Planning Advice Notes
50 (with Annexes) and 51. Also noted were Western Isles Islands
Council's proposed policies contained in the draft Harris Local Plan
(not yet adopted) and the draft Minerals Policy Alteration to the
Western Isles Structure Plan (not yet submitted for the Scottish
9. The Scottish Ministers sought advice from Scottish Natural
Heritage on 12 July 2000. As you are aware, that reference was the
subject of a successful judicial review. In light of that case, the
Scottish Ministers have not considered the advice received from SNH.
10. The Scottish Ministers take the view that arguments about
alternative supplies and low demand should not influence their
consideration of this case. The viability of a particular project, in
terms of supply and demand, is a matter of commercial judgement and
regard should not be had to such matters when determining a planning
application. The Scottish Ministers are of the opinion, however, that
had planning permission been granted it would have been appropriate, and
indeed sensible, to require that a bond was in place to ensure that
restoration of the site could take place in the event of default by the
developer. In this respect they note that a legally binding agreement
has been concluded between the applicants and Western Isles Islands
Council which includes provision for a restoration bond for the sum of
£1million. The Scottish Ministers note that the Reporter has found this
to be acceptable and see no reason to disagree with her view.
11. The construction and operation of the proposed harbour facilities
would involve a number of overlapping jurisdictions involving different
consents, licences and orders. The planning aspects before the Scottish
Ministers only involve land use above the low water mark. The Scottish
Ministers understand that the applicant's intention was to apply for a
Harbour Empowerment Order under Section 16 of the Harbours Act 1964.
Responsibility for Harbour Orders was, at 1 July 1999, devolved to the
Scottish Executive. The Scottish Ministers note that the applicant would
also have to consider the need for an environmental assessment under the
Harbours Act 1964.
12. The relevance of the English MPG6 to this proposal is discussed
between paragraphs 20 and 30 of this letter. Based on the reasoning as
set out in those paragraphs, it is the view of the Scottish Ministers
that any review of MPG6 is irrelevant to the consideration of this
application. The Lingerbay application should be assessed against the
Scottish guidance, including NPPG4. The Scottish Ministers also note
that the local plan and the alteration to the structure plan are still
at the draft stage and have not yet been adopted/approved. Accordingly
they take the view that the content of these documents should be
afforded less weight than the extant development plan.
13. In summary, the Scottish Ministers have had regard to all
correspondence received, and evidence arising, since the close of the
inquiry and have taken into account those new statutory provisions, new
and revised planning circulars, and other new and revised guidelines and
advice notes which have come into force since the close of the inquiry.
They do not, however, consider that any of these matters raise any new
issues or contain any new material which would affect their conclusions
on this application.
The Scottish Ministers' Decision
14. The Scottish Ministers have carefully considered all the evidence
presented at the inquiry, including the written submissions, the
Reporter's Findings of Fact and her conclusions and recommendations
thereon. Subject to the following, they accept the Reporter's Findings
of Fact and agree with her reasoning and conclusions, so far as relevant
to this determination, and adopt them for the purposes of their own
decision. They do not, however, accept the Reporter's recommendation.
15. At Finding of Fact 3.13 the Reporter indicates that the
"1981 permission has been partly implemented and remains in force
until March 2001". However, at Finding of Fact 4.49 she states
"I consider that the determination as to the validity of the 1965
decision is not a matter which is before the Secretary of State".
The Scottish Ministers agree with this statement and consider it is
equally applicable to the matter of the 1981 permission. Whilst the
issue of these previous consents may have been regarded as a material
consideration in the determination of the current proposal, a ruling as
to the validity of those consents is not a matter before the Scottish
Ministers. Accordingly they do not accept the final sentence of Finding
of Fact 3.13.
16. At Findings of Fact 11.193 and 14.318 the Reporter states that
"Section 262C(4) of the 1972 Act requires that special attention be
paid to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or
appearance of National Scenic Areas". Section 264(2) of the Town
and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (which replaced and repealed
the 1972 Act) requires that, where any area is designated as a Natural
Heritage Area (NHA) special attention shall be paid to the desirability
of preserving or enhancing its character or appearance. The Scottish
Ministers note that whilst the provision to which the Reporter refers
has now been repealed, statute has saved the requirement to
"preserve/enhance" provided the NSA designation is not
17. Findings of Fact 19.114 to 19.119 deal with the potential
disturbance of otters and the Reporter's conclusions on this issue are
at paragraph 27.36.
18. The Reporter takes the view, on the evidence available to her,
that there is a local population of at least 6 otters over a 15km
stretch of the coastline, with one active holt in the designated quarry
area and on Lingerbay island and that there could be as many as 11
otters in the Lingerbay area apart from the island. The Reporter finds
that there will be disturbance to the local otter population at
Lingerbay but that in terms of the relevant provisions of the EEC
Directive and its implementation in the UK regulations the development
will not be detrimental to the maintenance of the population of the
species at a favourable conservation status. She also finds that if
planning permission is granted any disturbance will not be unreasonable.
The quarry would destroy one active otter holt and the otter population
might decline by between 1 and 6 individuals. Whilst, from the evidence
available to the Reporter, there may be room for debate about the
precise effect of the development on otters, the Scottish Ministers do
not have evidence to suggest that this would be radically different from
that which she predicts.
19. The Scottish Ministers take the view, however, that the Reporter
has misdirected herself about the European law relating to otters. In
particular she mistakenly refers to a Directive 82/72/EEC, which does
not exist. Instrument 82/72/EEC is not a Directive. It is the Council
Decision through which the EEC adopted the Berne Convention on the
conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats. The Reporter
then refers to Article 6 of 82/72/EEC, although that instrument does not
have an Article 6. The Reporter also refers to Lutra vulgaris
instead of Lutra lutra; the latter is the species which is
protected by European law and which is believed to be present on the
site. However these differences have not led the Scottish Ministers to
disagree with the Reporter's recommendation.
20. Findings of Fact 11.199 to 11.213 relate to Government policy
principles contained in Mineral Policy Guideline No 6 (MPG6) (England
and Wales) and National Planning Policy Guideline No 4: Land for Mineral
Working (NPPG4) (Scotland). Findings of Fact 12.165 to 12.195 also
relate to these Guidelines and Findings of Fact 14.281 to 14.331 are
also of relevance. The Reporter's conclusions with regard to the
application of these guidelines are set out between paragraphs 27.49 and
21. Paragraph 66 of NPPG4 sets out criteria for the selection of
additional superquarries and paragraph 19 describes the two tests which
require to be met if planning permission is to be granted within a NSA.
22. These tests were subsequently amended by the publication, in
January 1999, of National Planning Policy Guideline 14: Natural Heritage
(NPPG14). This indicates that development which would affect designated
areas of national importance (which include NSAs) should only be
- the objectives of designation and the overall integrity of the
area will not be compromised; or
- any significant adverse effects on the qualities for which the area
has been designated are clearly outweighed by social or economic
benefits of national importance.
23. The significance of the change to the second test is that it
provides clarification that it is the effect on the designated area
(NSA etc), rather than the development site (as may have been
implied by NPPG4), which should be assessed.
24. In considering the first test the Reporter is of the
opinion that the proposed development generally meets NPPG4 paragraph 66
criteria. But she takes the view that the inherent physical scale,
changes in the landform, and industrial characteristics of the proposed
superquarry would inevitably be so significant that the underlying
objectives of the NSA would be adversely affected. Accordingly she
concludes that the proposal fails the first of the two NSA tests. The
Scottish Ministers accept the Reporter's conclusion.
25. In considering the second test the Reporter finds that the
relevant national mineral policies are those contained in MPG6 (England
and Wales) and NPPG 4 (Scotland). Whilst she finds that the policy
content of MPG6 does not apply to Scotland, she also finds that the
Government's objective of reducing the supply of aggregates from primary
land-won sources in England, the projected increase in aggregate imports
into England, and the clear references to the possibility that remote
quarries in Scotland could contribute to meeting demand in the
South-East of England, combine to make MPG6 a material consideration in
the determination of the Lingerbay proposal. She concludes that if
imports of aggregate from abroad are to be avoided, then there is a
national interest in securing superquarry development in Scotland.
26. The Reporter concludes that the Scottish 1994 NPPG4 "Land
for Mineral Working" and its English counterpart the 1994 MPG6
"Guidelines for Aggregates Provision in England" are material
considerations which must carry considerable weight in the determination
of this application. NPPG4 contains specific guidance in relation to the
principles of superquarry development and for minerals development
generally, including specific policy for such development proposals
within a NSA. There is support in principle for up to four coastal
exporting superquarries in Scotland, including that existing at
Glensanda, which would contribute to the reduction in the amount of
traditional land won aggregates used in England, and contribute to
potential employment opportunities in remote rural areas.
27. The Scottish Ministers do not agree with the approach adopted by
the Reporter in dealing with this issue. Furthermore they do not agree
with the Reporter's conclusion on the basis that MPG6 does not apply in
Scotland. It is not, therefore, a material consideration for the
purposes of their determination. In addition they note that she
considers MPG6 to be the counterpart of NPPG4. This is not so. NPPG4
provides the general policy background for all mineral working in
Scotland. MPG6 deals only with "Aggregate Provision" and the
apportionment of demand and supply to the various English Regions. NPPG4
does not deal with that level of detail. The Reporter also states that
NPPG4 makes provision for Scottish superquarries "which would
contribute to the reduction in the amount of traditional land won
aggregates used in England" (paragraph 27.48). NPPG 4 makes no
28. In several other instances the Reporter refers to the need for
aggregates being "primarily related to the market in South East
England" (e.g. paragraph 27.59). In addition she refers to the
fact that the exploitation of minerals in the UK can assist with the
balance of payments, either through export or import substitution.
However since this policy is contained in MPG6, which does not apply in
Scotland, it is not relevant. In any event the Scottish Ministers are of
the opinion that the planning system has no control over the eventual
market to be served and that production from Scottish superquarries
cannot be directed exclusively, or even partly, to English markets.
29. The Reporter's consideration of the second test, therefore,
presents some difficulties in so far as, in the Scottish Ministers'
opinion, she has made inappropriate connections between Scottish policy
as contained in NPPG4 and English policy in MPG6, even though she does
state that the policy content of MPG6 has no currency in Scotland.
Accordingly, the Scottish Ministers take the view that, in the context
of the second test and in relation to her recommendation, the Reporter
has come to the wrong conclusion.
30. The Scottish Ministers' disagree with the Reporter's
recommendation based on her reasoning and conclusions with regard to the
second of the tests set out in paragraph 19 of NPPG4, i.e. that
mineral extraction should only be permitted where any adverse effects on
the environmental qualities for which the site has been designated are
outweighed significantly by the national benefits that could accrue from
the mineral extraction (as subsequently amended by NPPG14 referred
to in paragraph 22 above). The term "national benefits is
defined at paragraph 20 of NPPG4 which states that these could include
the public interest in securing economic developments of national
importance, or employment creation and balance of payments
considerations. However these differences have not led the Scottish
Ministers to disagree with the Reporter's recommendation.
31. At paragraph 27.76 the Reporter concludes that, overall, the
proposed development would be in the national interest and that the harm
to the National Scenic Area (NSA) during the lifetime of the quarry
would be offset by the economic benefits of the proposal, both
nationally and locally in the Western Isles. The Reporter appears to
base this view on her conclusions, at paragraph 27.69, where she states
that if imports of aggregates from abroad are to be avoided, there is a
national interest in securing superquarry development in Scotland. And
also at paragraph 27.69 where she states that there is a national
interest in securing economic development, and therefore employment, in
remote rural areas. The Reporter further notes, at paragraph 27.70, that
the percentage of this very large NSA that will be affected is very
small both in terms of the actual area of the quarry and its ancillary
facilities and its visibility from other parts of the NSA.
32. The Scottish Ministers have however noted that the Reporter has
made a number of Findings which could lead to an alternative conclusion.
At Finding of Fact 11.213 the Reporter states "the evidence does
not permit a finding that refusal would seriously prejudice the
legitimate national interest in the continuing supply of aggregates
sufficient to support national economic growth" and at Finding
of Fact 14.310 she states "Irrespective of the exact scale
(width and height) of the quarry, it will be exceptionally large and I
find that there would be a very significant effect on the landscape in
the immediate locality. There will also be a very significant effect on
views from the sea area to the east of this part of the coastline, and
from parts of the hills themselves."
33. Furthermore, at Finding of Fact 14.312 the Reporter states "In
addition, the quarry would be readily visible as a large and intrusive
feature from a considerably wider area of sea to the east where viewers
would observe the quarry as a very significant man made element in an
otherwise semi-natural landscape of coast and mountain" and at
Finding of Fact 14.322 she finds "that the proposed quarry will
completely change the landscape characteristics of Lingerbay by changing
the scale and character of its coastline and its hinterland. Furthermore
during the lifetime of the quarry it will introduce a very significant
industrial type of activity, including ship loading facilities, which
will permanently change the existing small scale pattern of the rocky
indented coast and islets.".
34. The Scottish Ministers have also noted the Reporter's Finding of
Fact 14.326 which states "…the detrimental effect on the
environment must be regarded as very significant. The quarry would
create an area of massive disturbance, involving man made industrial
features, heavy plant, and disruptive noise. Unless there are overriding
reasons relating to national benefit, which is a matter for my
conclusions, the acceptance of such an intrusive feature within such an
important landscape would set a precedent that would undermine the
continued successful operation of policy for NSAs". Also at
14.328 which states "Given the very large scale of the proposal,
I do not consider that any modest reduction in size, compatible with the
scope of the planning application, would achieve any worthwhile
reduction in the severity of the impact on the NSA." Also
Finding of Fact 14.329 which concludes "….considering the
integrity of the NSA, such a quarry would still have a significant
impact on this part of the NSA.". Finally, the Scottish
Ministers have noted that, notwithstanding her conclusions at paragraph
27.70, referred to above, the Reporter has also concluded (paragraph
27.43) "that the proposed development would be contrary to the
terms of Structure Plan Policy PD1 which seeks to protect, maintain and
enhance the NSA." With regard to the natural environment of the
Western Isles I conclude that although there will be some risks and
adverse effects involved, with adequate controls these are acceptable if
other policy objectives are found to be of overriding importance". And
also, at paragraph 27.71, "that the development of the
quarry……….will also introduce a substantial industrialised area on
the lower slopes on a scale not found anywhere else in the NSA. It would
be totally at odds with the designation as part of the area of
outstanding scenic beauty, and significantly alter the landscape
character of the immediate area.".
35. The Scottish Ministers accept that the development could bring
substantial benefits to the local economy through the creation, directly
and indirectly, of up to 200 jobs. They also acknowledge the importance
of the Council's corporate strategy to encourage the economically active
to remain or return to the islands by improving employment opportunities
and reducing unemployment. However, having had regard to the Findings of
Fact described above, they take the view that the Reporter has, in her
overall conclusions, seriously understated the impact of the proposed
development on the NSA. They have, therefore, concluded that the
objectives of designation and the overall integrity of the area will be
compromised and that the social and economic benefits which the Reporter
has found are likely to derive from the proposed development do not
clearly outweigh the significant adverse effects on the quality for
which the area has been designated. As such, they take the view that
neither of the tests set out in paragraph 19 of NPPG4 (as amended by
NPPG14) have been met.
36. Accordingly the Scottish Ministers hereby refuse to grant
planning permission in respect of the extraction, processing and
transport by sea of anorthosite from land near Rodel, Isle of Harris,
and to construct the relevant facilities.
37. The foregoing decision of the Scottish Ministers is final,
subject to the right, conferred by Sections 237 and 239 of the Town and
Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997, of any person aggrieved by their
decision to apply to the Court of Session, within 6 weeks of the date
hereof. On any such application the Court may quash the decision if
satisfied that it is not within the powers of the Act, or that the
applicant's interests have been substantially prejudiced by a failure to
comply with any requirement of the Act, or of the Tribunals and
Inquiries Act 1992 or of any orders, regulations or rules made under
38. A copy of this letter and the public local inquiry report have
been sent to Western Isles Islands Council and to all other parties who
appeared at the inquiry.
39. The productions submitted to the inquiry are currently held in
this office. If not collected, they will be disposed of after 3 months.
News Release: SE2846/2000
3 Nov 2000
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Redland Force Reopening of Harris Quarry Saga
Reports from The Herald and Stornoway
Below are reports on
Lafarge's latest move to force their proposed and opposed superquarry ahead. I
find the views of the councillor representing the area particularly interesting
in the light of corporate claims that local people now support the
fundamental problem in all this is that planning law presumes in favour of development
except where law explicitly militates against it. Where that law is open to
interpretation, it becomes a question of who can buy the best lawyers. The the
debate becomes asymmetrical, because the company can gamble on the prospect of a
massive pay-off if it eventually wins, whereas everybody else faces costs beyond
their means to keep on fighting them off.
This is a classic case of
globalisation allowing corporate power to reach corners of the world once beyond
its reach. Here is a French company, that took over an English one, that wants
to violate a National Scenic Area in Scotland. There's
plenty of rock in France without destroying one of the most spectacular corners
of Scotland. In any case, as the local councillor points out in the Stornoway
Gazette (below), new job creation has given fresh opportunity to most of the employable unemployed. The
rate of unemployment on Harris is now relatively low, and as Councillor Munro
says, many people would prefer a matrix of small employers than one massive
project dominating the area.
Blunder by executive reopens saga of island superquarry
DAVID ROSS, The Herald, Glasgow, 19 March 2002, p. 4
AN embarrassing blunder by the Scottish Executive forced ministers yesterday to
reopen the 11-year planning saga for Europe's largest coastal superquarry at
Lingerbay on Harris.
New legal advice suggested the executive could not justify upholding a
decision by Sam Galbraith, the former environment minister, and his ministerial
colleagues, when they refused the development more than 15 months ago.
Mr Galbraith had chosen to overturn the recommendation of Gillian Pain, the
reporter who chaired the public inquiry into the quarry. It became the longest
and most expensive in Scottish planning history.
Miss Pain had recommended that the quarry go ahead, and the company behind
the application later appealed against Mr Galbraith's decision. That appeal was
due to be heard in the Court of Session next month, but it emerged yesterday
that ministers had been advised they would lose.
Blame was being laid last night on those who framed the official letter
refusing the development, and the fact it failed to give "sufficient and
adequate" reasons why the executive was ignoring the recommendation that
the development should go ahead.
The executive's failure will not mean the quarry will now go ahead
automatically, but it means ministers will have to listen to fresh evidence from
any of the parties to the public inquiry.
Last night, the executive's handling of the issue was condemned as
"quite disgraceful" by islanders who support the development. They
promised to seize this chance to press again for the quarry, while local
opponents will be equally determined to resist it.
Redland Aggregates first lodged its planning application for the superquarry
in March 1991. In June 1993, the Western Isles Council agreed to grant planning
permission. However, in October, Ian Lang, the-then secretary of state, called
in the application, heralding a public inquiry.
The inquiry opened in Stornoway in October 1994 and closed on June 6, 1995,
in Leverburgh in the south of Harris, the day after the council had voted to
overturn its position of support for the project, to one of outright opposition.
The inquiry had sat for 100 days, hearing more than 100 witnesses, and receiving
between 400 and 500 written submissions.
Some saw the £70m project to remove 600 million tonnes of anorthosite from
the mountain Roineabhal as the salvation of an island community which had
suffered 80 years of chronic depopulation. Others, however, viewed the project
as a prescription for environmental disaster.
Miss Pain, the-then chief inquiry reporter at the the Scottish Office, took
four years to conclude that the 200 direct and indirect jobs the quarry would
bring would be worth the undoubted environmental damage it would cause.
Despite her conclusion, Mr Galbraith announced at the beginning of November
2000 that the executive would refuse the application because ministers felt that
Miss Pain had "seriously understated the impact the quarry would have on
the national scenic area in which the quarry would be sited".
The developer, by this time called Lafarge Redland after a takeover, decided
to launch an appeal against that decision.
Last night a spokesman for the executive confirmed: "Scottish ministers
no longer intend to defend the appeal to the Court of Session against their
decision to refuse planning permission for a superquarry at Lingerbay."
Lafarge appears certain to have its legal costs for the appeal paid by the
executive, and would be unlikely to pass up any opportunity to try to persuade
ministers of the folly of their original decision. A spokesman said last night:
"Clearly the company will wish to discuss the implications of this with
their legal advisers but I am unable to say more at this time."
Lafarge is still, separately, seeking to prove that earlier planning consents
for the quarry dating back to 1965 are still extant, notwithstanding the
subsequent application. Another public inquiry was held last autumn to
investigate this issue, but its outcome is not yet known.
- March 19th
Report on Quarry Saga Reopening
Thursday, 21 March 2002, 09:06 AM
MSP mounts attack on Executive over Lingerbay
By Donnie Macinnes
, pp. 1 & 16.
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Morrison
has demanded answers from the Scottish Executive following the latest
twist in the Lingerbay superquarry saga which he described as
He hit out after the announcement
that the Scottish Executive had abandoned its Court of Session defence of
an appeal against their decision to refuse planning permission for the
The appeal had been lodged in
December 2000 by applicants, Lafarge Redland Aggregates Ltd, now trading
as Lafarge Aggregates.
In slamming the Scottish Executive
over their handling of the situation, Mr Morrison told the 'Gazette'
yesterday (Wednesday): "I am absolutely staggered that officials have
not managed to take this competently through the due process. Questions
must be asked of the officials of the department dealing with this. Are
they up to the job and do they have the necessary skills to deal with a
complex planning inquiry?"
Mr Morrison, who has written for an
explanation to the Minister concerned, Margaret Curran, stated: "I
have every confidence that she will ensure this will be resolved quickly
and efficiently—but there is no doubt in my mind that the people of
Harris and everyone involved with this inquiry have been let down by
officials in the planning department of the Scottish Executive."
Mr Morrison pointed out that
Margaret Curran, and earlier Sam Galbraith and Sarah Boyack, were not
allowed to discuss the issue with him because of the special role they had
within planning law.
Meanwhile, it was claimed this week
that Leverburgh could become the industrial centre of the Western Isles if
the superquarry proceeded.
For the quarry would not only
attract engineering businesses and other service industries, but would
encourage islanders to return to their homeland.
The view was expressed yesterday by
the chairman of the Coastal Quarry Local Supporters Group, John Macleod
when he urged councillors to support the Lingerbay quarry proposals to
prevent the population of the islands declining further.
Mr Macleod told the 'Gazette':
"There is no reason why Leverburgh could not become the industrial
centre of the Western Isles, and the quarry could hasten the building of a
causeway from Harris to North Uist. The rock from the quarry could be used
to build the causeway. Here is an opportunity to realise this dream."
have worked long and hard to get the quarry project going, but the forces
of the environmentalists have been against us. I hope there will be a
change of mood in the Scottish Parliament and that the environmentalists
will not be as prominent as they have been," said Mr Macleod.
added: "I think people have to face reality. The population of the
Western Isles is going down — there is little work. If we are going to
reject opportunities like this in the islands — and the councillors
don't seize such opportunities — we are finished. This development would
last between 60 and 100 years. We are talking about serious work
was surprise in the Western Isles when the Scottish Executive announced
the latest twist in the Lingerbay saga.
Scottish Executive spokesperson told the 'Gazette': "Following
detailed consideration of the matter, the Scottish Ministers have
consented to the appeal being allowed because they recognise the force of
that part of the appellant's Ground of Appeal 2 which states: 'the
Scottish Ministers have failed to give adequate and sufficient reasons for
their decision to disagree with the recommendation of the Reporter'."
Executive were quite adamant: "The quashing of this decision does not
mean that the decision to refuse planning permission is automatically
reversed. What it means is that the matter is referred back to the
Scottish Ministers for redetermination."
spokesperson added: "But before doing so, it is expected that those
parties who attended the public local inquiry to consider this application
will be asked if they have any new evidence which they consider ought to
be taken into account before a fresh decision letter is issued."
Morag Munro of Harris West said she was worried about what had happened.
was astonished, to be honest, that an error could be made by people who
have such access and expertise of planning and legal advice," she
Munro went on: "My main reaction is the feeling that this is going to
be delayed even further. We have already been talking about this for 12
years and it is horrendous for this to be hanging over us. It could be
hanging over us for another year-and-a-half."
it was likely there would be another appeal.
understand they are asking people if they have new evidence. They could
ask for the inquiry to be reopened and that again could mean horrendous
delays," she added.
Munro said it was most unfair on the residents living near the site of the
are people who are living near to the site and they don't know if the
quarry is going ahead or not. They have been in that situation for 12
years now," she said.
difficult for these people to plan ahead and modernise their houses.
would be a waste of time if these houses are going to be knocked
down," she said. "It is really unfair to the people of this
community to have these kinds of delays. Let them make a decision. Let
these people be able to get on with their lives. It is very unsettling for
the local community."
in some quarters there had been suggestions made that there had been a
'change of mind' and people were in favour of the quarry, she could not
who are vociferous for the quarry have always been vociferous for
it," she said.
Munro said that at the time of the inquiry the number unemployed was 150 -
now it was 69.
had happened in Harris since the inquiry, she stated, including the
Scalpay bridge, the Sound of Harris ferry,Seallam, Leverburgh village
hall, Scaladale Centre, Stolts factory in Scalpay, and development in the
Bays area through Iomairt Aig an Oir.
are developments that we need - little packages here and there to keep
people on the island, as well as a variety of work," she said.
Councillor Munro: "On the other hand, I am quite sure that the Census
will show there has been a decline in the population and that is the big
concern for us."
Donald Maclean, chairman of the Comhairle's Sustainable Communities
Committee, said of the latest development: "This is a matter between
the Scottish Executive and the company concerned. The Council's position
is quite clear — they are opposed to the quarry."
the matter would come before the Committee next Wednesday.
Macleod of the Coastal Quarry Local Supporters Group hoped that the
Comhairle would have a change of heart on the quarry issue - and he felt
they should take note of the findings of inquiry Reporter Gillian Pain.
my opinion, the findings of Gillian Pain were not considered properly. The
Reporter took three years to write her report because she did it so
thoroughly. She was the only person who understood the situation
properly," said Mr Macleod.
on: "She climbed to the top of Roineabhal to see where the quarry
would be. I too have done that. You then see how insignificant the quarry
would be on the scale of Harris. Gillian Pain understood fully the
implications of a quarry in Harris."
Macleod claimed that when former environment minister Sam Galbraith
announced refusal of Lafarge Redland Aggregates' application, Gillian
Pain's findings 'were set aside' and not considered properly.
is an opportunity to re-examine her findings. She was right in every
aspect of what she said," added Mr Macleod.
concerned that fewer people would be employed in the fish farming industry
in the Western Isles in future and they would be looking for work.
are these people going to do? We cannot afford to turn down work. As the
population of the Western Isles goes down, so too will the money the
Comhairle receives from the Government. All of us have to be vigilant.
Councillors will have to understand that they cannot allow an opportunity
like this to slip away - we need to encourage people to return to these
islands if we are to survive," he added.
Back on 1965 Backdoor Bid
Lafarge Redland Aggregates Ltd have failed in their bid to
force a superquarry on Harris by revitalising a 1965 planning application for
the site. The mini public local inquiry (26 November - 6 December 2001,
reference P/PP/75/W/4) concluded that, yes, they could proceed, but
only on the 12 acres (5 hectares) of the 370 acres that they wanted. As this is
just the size of a farm field or a typical croft, it would be impossible to
operate a large quarry on such a small site, so the Solomonic judgement
effectively closes this particular back door on Lafarge. A press report on the
matter is pasted below.
The Scottish Executive have still to figure out what to do
by way of reissuing their letter to the company following their decision not to
contest the company's legal challenge to the earlier letter, which rejected the
application. We await with interest.
Speaking at the AGM of Harris Development Ltd., Brian
Wilson MP, the UK Energy Minister, had the following to say about the quarry.
Whilst originally a supporter of the proposal, it sounds like he'll not now be
buying many shares in the company:
"Of course, the issues became more complex as it
was not just a quarry which was eventually proposed but the biggest whole on
earth. Nobody on Harris ever asked for that and I have always felt that the
developers who chose to pursue that jackpot, rather than something more in
keeping with local needs and expectations, had a lot to answer for. But
whatever the scale of the application, the failure of Government to give
Harris - even down to the present day - a definitive answer on the outcome
remains one of the most scandalous episodes in the recent administration of
Scotland" ("Momentum must be maintained on renewable energy
developments", West Highland Free Press, 31 May 2002, p. 10.
Ministers to cut Lingerbay superquarry plan down to size
Story supplied by:
29 May 2002
MINISTERS are prepared to allow the establishment of a
superquarry at Lingerbay on the island of Harris, but only if it covers
just 12 acres and not the 370 acres sought by the developers.
The decision appears to close the back door that Redland
Aggregates, the developer, sought to use by arguing that planning
consents for Lingerbay dating to 1965 were still in force.
In November 2000, Sam Galbraith, the environment
minister at the time, refused consent for a superquarry at Lingerbay,
nine-and-a-half years after the Western Isles Council had supported
Redland's planning application.
Following that decision the developer (renamed Lafarge
Redland) sought to establish that a 37-year-old planning consent by the
old Inverness-shire County Council was still valid. At the subsequent
inquiry it argued that this 1965 consent had allowed quarrying for two
years in the 1960s and was still valid.
This would have enabled Redland to exploit a 1500-acre
area, four times larger than that refused by Mr Galbraith.
Ministers, however, have accepted the recommendations of
the Scottish Executive reporters unit, which would restrict any
quarrying to an area no larger than 12 acres, which was the extent of
the 1960s workings.
The ministerial decision said: "The remainder of
the 600 hectares (1500 acres) no longer has planning permission since
work was not commenced on that part prior to December 8, 1979"
(when permission lapsed).
The decision was welcomed by the Link Quarry Group, the
umbrella environmental organisation, which had always opposed the
But there is still the executive's blunder, which in
March forced ministers to reopen the 11-year planning saga. New legal
advice suggested that when Mr Galbraith refused permission the executive
failed to give "sufficient and adequate" reasons why it was
ignoring the recommendation from the longest inquiry in Scots planning
history that the development should go ahead.
The developers later appealed against Mr Galbraith's
decision. That appeal had been due to be heard in the Court of Session
in April when ministers were advised that they would lose.
The executive's failure will not mean the quarry will
now go ahead automatically, but it means ministers will still have to
listen to fresh evidence from any of the parties to the public inquiry.
A spokesman for the developers said they would study the
terms before commenting.
- May 29th
Update as of February 5 2003
This is just to note that, as far as I am aware, there has been no further
change in the situation since last reported on this website. We await the court
hearings. A few weeks ago there was a report in the Stornoway Gazette merely
saying that somebody from the company had spoken at the "Coastal Quarry
Local Supporters' Group" AGM, and he had repeated that the quarry remained
Harris's main hope for salvation; but other than that, all's been quiet on
the Western Front, with negligible activity in the letters pages of the local
press either. Of course, that doesn't mean all's quiet in the Lowland lawyers'
I stayed on Harris when I was back home on Lewis in November 2002. It was
impressed on me by a Harris native prominent in the economic development of the
island that Harris now has virtually no unemployment problem (other than
"unemployables"), and the Stolt salmon processing factory has been
facing labour shortage, as have similar plants in Stornoway where Nigerian
labour has recently been brought in for unskilled work.
Of course, this does not mean there is not still enormous scope on Harris for
skilled employment opportunities that would anchor its highly intelligent youth
to home, but it does suggest that the kind of unemployment that the quarry
offered to soak up has already been absorbed and has been so by industries that
a superquarry would have damaged.
By the way, it is substantially because salmon farming has been the biggest
factor in holding the superquarry at bay that I personally have chosen to sit on
the fence with the salmon farming debate. Salmon farming causes temporary damage
to the environment, whilst a superquarry would disfigure it for all time. That
said, I wish the emphasis could be shifted away from fish farming and back
towards wild harvesting through wise conservation measures.
I would appreciate hearing from any observer who might have inside
information about superquarry issues or who might have picked up on news that
I've missed - email to mail@AlastairMcIntosh.com
Please click here for ECOS article
updating to July 2003.
Update as of
9 January 2004 - Lafarge Lose Court Case
The following is the Friends of the Earth Scotland press release announcing
that Lafarge has lost one of the two legal avenues they had been following to
force through their superquarry proposal for the Isle of Harris. For more on
this effort to "grandfather" their objectives to an older supposed
planning consent, see my ECOS article by clicking the July 2003 update link
I attended the opening day of the court case on 25 November 2003 and it was
clear that all 3 law lords were skeptical about the grounds for bringing the
case. As they said more than once, and I paraphrase, "If the 1965 planning
consent was valid all along, why did you need to make the 1991 application with
all the need for a public inquiry that it entailed?"
Interestingly, in the court house that morning was Ian Wilson, the
Dunblane-based "father of the superquarry concept" who jointly
controls the mineral rights on Harris. On seeing one another, we moved over and
shook hands like old friends. I don't know what those watching made of it, but
it was good to confirm that people can be adversaries but still have warmth and
respect for one another. I particularly admire this in Ian, as I have perhaps
contributed to costing him more than he's cost me!
Much has been happening behind the scenes with Lafarge executives, Friends of
the Earth Scotland, WWF, the RSPB, the Paris-based Co-Evolution Group and with
community leaders on Harris over the past 3 months. We are not at liberty to
share further at the moment, but nobody's napping.
COURT UNANIMOUSLY REJECTS SUPERQUARRY MOVE...
Britain's biggest quarry put on on....
Sent on behalf of Scottish Environment LINK
********* FOR IMMEDIATE USE: Friday 9 January 2004 *********
COURT UNANIMOULSY REJECTS 'BACK DOOR' QUARRY ATTEMPT
Call for company to drop plans for Britain's biggest quarry
Plans to develop what would be Britain's biggest ever quarry were set
back today (Friday 9 January) following a unanimous decision by judges
at the Edinburgh Court of Session to reject a "back door"
appeal by French aggregates giant Lafarge. The company failed to
overturn a previous Executive decision blocking the establishment of a
massive 600 hectare superquarry within a National Scenic Area on Harris.
The superquarry controversy may not end here. Following an earlier
appeal by Lafarge, a redetermination on a separate planning application
dating from 1991 has yet to be issued.
The Link Quarry Group, a coalition of environment groups opposed to the
quarry, welcomed today's decision and demanded that that Lafarge
Aggregates finally drop its quarry plans and withdraw from all attempts
to gain approval for its plan. The Group also reiterated its demand that
the bosses of Lafarge visit Harris to apologise for the decade of
uncertainty that they have created for the community.
On behalf of the Link Quarry Group, Duncan McLaren said:
"When will Lafarge accept that 'non' means 'non'? They have been
told repeatedly by the Scottish authorities and people that their
'super-quarry' proposals are unacceptable. Yet they have persisted in
pursuing every arcane planning and legal possibility. Now the Scottish
law lords have confirmed that only a tiny part of the site has a valid
existing permission. It's time for Lafarge to withdraw gracefully before
they are rebuffed yet again.
"Lafarge's bosses claim that they support sustainable development.
They should accept that the only sustainable decision in this case is to
drop the entire proposal, and then apologise to the people of Harris for
the uncertainty and disruption they have caused."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 The Link Quarry Group represents a number of Scottish environment
groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, RSPB,
WWF Scotland, Rural Scotland, Sustrans, NEMT and Scottish Wildlife
The following groups are available for interview or comment:
RSPB Scotland: Lloyd Austin or Anne McCall on 0131 311 6500
WWF Scotland: Simon Pepper on 01887 820449
Ramblers Scotland: Dave Morris on 07808 580 796
Friends of the Earth Scotland: Duncan McLaren on 0131 554 9977
 LAFARGE AGGREGATES LIMITED AND OTHERS v. SCOTTISH MINISTERS AND
OTHERS Lord Marnoch and Lord President and Lord Weir 9/1/2004
Full text available from here: http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/XA99.html
Some key conclusions:
Lord President:  É "The land to which a relevant planning
permission relates" means, in my view, the land in respect of which
specific minerals development has been authorised. In the circumstances
of the present case land which satisfies that description comprises only
the three areas identified in the 25 inch map. The remainder of the 600
hectares does not satisfy that description since winning and working of
minerals in these areas has never been authorised...
 ...one of the appellants' contentions was that the reporters had
exceeded their remit in recommending that the three areas should be
entered in the list, in respect that they were only concerned with the
existence and validity of 1965/79. I am wholly unpersuaded by this
Lord Marnoch:  ...I should make it clear that, had it been necessary
to do so, I, myself, would have been prepared to go further and hold
that a "planning permission in principle" or any other
supposed "planning permission" which, like
"1965/79", prohibited the commencement of work pending further
approval of aspects of the application could not in any circumstances
itself constitute a "relevant planning permission"...
 In agreement with your Lordship in the chair I am of opinion that
there is no substance whatever in Grounds of Appeal 5 and 6 relative to
the vires of the Scottish Ministers' decision...
60] ... all the Grounds of Appeal ... come back to the same point,
namely the proper construction of the definition of "relevant
planning permission" for purposes of Schedule 9 to the 1997 Act.
... I am satisfied that any reasonable construction of that phrase in
the end leads to a dismissal of the present appeal.
Lord Weir:  I agree with your Lordship in the chair that the
"land to which a relevant planning permission relates" means
the land in respect of which specific minerals development has been
authorised. As it has transpired, the only authorisation which has been
made relates to the areas identified in the 25 inch map. The remainder
of the large area has not been authorised for development as a mineral
site and accordingly cannot be listed. In my opinion the decision
reached by the Ministers in accepting the recommendations of the
reporters was correct, and I agree with your Lordships that the appeal
should be refused.
 Background: In November 2003, Lafarge went to the Edinburgh's Court
of Session in an attempt to overturn an earlier decision which
prevented it from establishing a superquarry. The company was claimed
that a permission given back in 1965 by the now defunct
Inverness County Council was still valid and would allow a superquarry
If successful the Harris superquarry would be Britain's biggest ever
quarry. Fifty times larger than conventional UK quarries the proposal by
one of the world's largest aggregate companies, Lafarge Aggregates,
would cover an area 459 hectares in area. A Scottish mountain would be
reduced to a sea loch leaving a scar six times the height of the White
Cliffs of Dover.
For more details: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/nation/superquarry_update.html
Updated 12 January 2004