While it’s the time of year when children yearn for the coming of Christmas Day, campaigners against quarrying in Clydesdale’s most famous beautyspot are facing the festive season with a sense of dread.
They fear that in the post, among the Christmas cards, will be a letter telling them that they’ve lost their six-year-long battle against Mexican-based quarrying company Cemex’s bid to extend its Lanark Hyndford Quarry right to the very edge of the world-renowned Falls of Clyde.
Over the festive season, the Scottish Government is expected to issue its decision on Cemex’s latest appeal against council and government refusals of planning permission to extend the Hyndford workings into the conservation ‘Buffer Zone’ around the Falls and the New Lanark Unesco World Heritage Site.
The campaigners against the quarrying, group under the Save Our Landscape (SOL) banner, fear the Scottish Government might finally give in to pressure from Cemex in what is the firm’s third attempt since 2012 to extend the working into the senstive Bonnington area adjacent to the Falls and between Lanark and New Lanark. It is much loved by local walkers and tourists alike as a beautyspot.
Mark Stephens, chairman of Save Our Landscapes, said: “It is local heritage that has international significance as the setting for the world heritage site.
“As Unesco says, this is a ‘vital part of the outstanding universal value of New Lanark’. For an area to be assessed as being of such a high importance, it really is scandalous that it should even be considered that it should be up for being destroyed.”
Added Allison Galbraith, who runs guided tours of the area: “Tourists come from absolutely everywhere and they walk at the Falls of Clyde and New Lanark. “
Said Sylvia Russell, chairwoman of Lanark Community Development Trust: “It is going to destroy a beautiful landscape and it will also destroy some of our plans to increase tourism in the area. As you are walking up the footpath to the falls you won’t fail to hear the machinery digging away to extract the sand and gravel.”
Cemex, which employs 22 at Hyndford, said the quarry contributed about £3.5m per year to the local economy. A company spokesperson said: “Cemex believes the extension can be worked without unacceptable impacts on the local area, providing essential materials for the construction of local housing, schools, infrastructure and businesses.”