Way cleared to reopen quarry for whinstone

The site of Criagdhu Quarry near Shannochie.

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By Hugh Boag

The way has been cleared for a proposal to excavate whinstone from a quarry in the south of Arran to proceed to the next stage.

Murchie Sand and Gravel Ltd are now expected to submit a planning application to North Ayrshire Council to enable the recommencement of the winning and working of hard rock (whinstone) at Craigdhu Quarry.

The company says that by excavating the stone on the island it will save shipping it in from the mainland, where much of it comes from the Glensanda super-quarry on the Morven peninsula.

As part of the pre-planning process it had requested a screening opinion from council planners which they have now given. And they have decided that an environmental impact assessment in relation to the development will not be required.

In its submission AED Consultant Services Ltd describes Murchie Sand and Gravel as a local, family-run business established more than 20 years ago. The company specialises in all types of civil engineering, groundworks, ready-mixed concrete, plant hire and haulage and employs around 12 workers.

The quarry is located to the south of the island on the southern side of the A841 approximately two kilometres (1.2 miles) east of Shannochie and approximately 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) west of Kildonan.

Giving the reasons for the development the planning submission states: ‘Murchie Sand and Gravel has identified a need to secure a local source of hardrock. It is considered that the proposed development would assist in ensuring that Arran is self-sufficient in aggregate supply and also provide the islanders with a competitive service.

‘It is our understanding that currently, circa 12,000t pa of aggregate is imported to the island from the mainland. By sourcing these materials on the island, economic and environmental benefits can be derived including reduction in carbon footprint, reduced traffic impact, freeing up ferry capacity for other users to access and expand its operations.

‘Furthermore, it should be noted that there is limited ability to recycle materials on the island. As part of the proposed application consideration would be given to seeking to undertake such an operation at the site in order to minimise transportation impacts by recovering and blending stone with recyclable materials to produce aggregates that meet the demand of the islanders. The proposed site would assist in sustaining a local business and also provide an opportunity for sustaining local employment.

‘Initial proposed works would involve the introduction to site of the office, welfare cabin and weighbridge. Access to the site will be by means of the existing track which has serviced the quarry historically. The track runs north from Craigdhu Quarry to the A841.  It is not anticipated that blasting will be required.

‘It is estimated that the proposed extraction area would yield a reserve at Craigdhu Quarry of the order of 61,000m3. It is anticipated that annual output from the site would be of the order of 12,000 tonnes per annum therefore planning permission will be sought for a period of 12 years. Following the completion of extraction operations the site would be appropriately restored.’

The report concludes: ‘By taking potential areas of concern into account at an early stage of the project, any potential impacts can be investigated and assessed and, where necessary, any practicable means to avoid them can be built into the overall design.

‘This will act to minimise any possible impacts of the proposed development. The main issues generally associated with similar activities are the potential effects of noise, dust, visual and landscape intrusion, road traffic and the likely impacts on features of ecology, archaeology and the water regime.’

A planning application is expected to be submitted in the coming months.