Quarry plans not welcomed by residents

Cowdenhill Quarry
Cowdenhill Quarry
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Residents fear their lives could be blighted once again by quarrying in their neighbourhood.

People living in Banknock and Coneypark are unhappy about two planning applications submitted to Falkirk Council.

One is for the restoration of the Cowdenhill Quarry in Coneypark, while the other is a consultation by North Lanarkshire Council over a proposal to quarry at Tomfyne Farm in nearby Banton.

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Both applications are from Aggregate Industries UK Ltd and the company has made clear that if it doesn’t get the go-ahead for Tomfyne, restoration work there would be on a lesser scale.

Agnes O’Donnell, speaking on behalf of residents, said: “We suffered from it in the past, we don’t want to do so again.”

She added that previous Cowdenhill operators Skene Group caused problems including excessive dust, air pollution and heavy traffic.

The new application for Cowdenhill was considered at a recent planning committee which followed a site visit when councillors had an opportunity to see the area for themselves and hear from locals.

A report said there was support for the proposal from nearby landowner John Penman, who said he felt it would improve overall site safety. However, other residents and the community council voiced fears.

The committee also heard from Councillor Martin Oliver who urged members to continue the matter until the outcome of North Lanarkshire’s deliberations on Tomfyne. He said: “This is necessary so an informed decision can be made. To do otherwise would be folly.”

Officers also pointed out to members that there is currently consent for Cowdenhill to be used as a quarry until 2024 and technically, the owners could begin work again.

However, the committee agreed to continue the application until the future of Tomfyne was clear.

Councillor Brian McCabe, who was allowed to address the committee, said it would be “bonkers” to support the proposal for Tomfyne.

Baillie Billy Buchanan, planning convener, said: “The decision making is out of our hands.”

After much debate, members agreed to note the detail in the report and, only if the planning application was granted by North Lanarkshire, be involved in the drafting of conditions to be applied.