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Go ahead for Ellon quarry plan after previous appeal failure

By David Porter

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Permission for a new north-east quarry which has been previously refused by both Formartine and Buchan Councillors and the Department of Planning Appeals have been given the go-ahead.

Plans for the quarry expansion at Muirtack were refused by Aberdeenshire Councillors on several occasions.
Plans for the quarry expansion at Muirtack were refused by Aberdeenshire Councillors on several occasions.

Proposals to create a site for mineral extraction at Muirtack, near Ellon were first mooted back in April of 2017, with considerable local opposition raised over the plans.

Objectors argued that there were considerable dangers posed by the increase in traffic which would be generated on the rural road being proposed as the access and that the methodology presented to justify the need for the sand and gravel extraction in relation to the local housing market was vague.

Councillors from both the Formartine and Buchan area committees were involved due to the location, and both sided against the application.

Chap Group’s proposals were rejected and an appeal lodged with the Scottish Government, which in turn upheld the decision over road safety concerns as the reporter reasoned that the U94B was unsuitable to accommodate the lorry movements generated by the proposed quarry."

In December of 2019 fresh plans were submitted as a separate application for the access road by itself as the planning rules do not allow for the quarry plans to be resubmitted with the new proposal.

The new plans include an access road from the A952 to mitigate road safety concerns and separate one for the quarry development.

The quarry itself would be set to extract more than 75,000 tonnes of sand and gravel every year to meet the owners local demand for material for between eight and 12 years.

Planning documents added: “This proposed site at Muirtack can deliver additional resource without adverse impact on the surrounding environment, or the amenity of neighbouring residents.”

Again concerns over road safety, loss of amenity and the economic need were challenged leading to a refusal by Aberdeenshire Council and a repeat of the appeal to the Scottish Government in July.

In a decision notice which was made public on December 30, reporter Trevor Croft sided in favour of the application.

On local reserves he explained: "In my opinion it is highly unreliable to rely on figures eight years out of date to assess current demand when there is no firm idea of the impact of recently completed projects or new ones likely to come on stream.

"Whilst demand is uncertain I am satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that there may not be a full 10 year supply."

Referring to the road issue he said: "The proposed access has no relationship to the previous proposal.

"Whilst accidents can occur on the best designed roads I consider that in the circumstances of this case the proposed junction is located at a point where the main road’s horizontal and vertical alignment and subsequent visibility are such that accident potential would almost certainly be minimised.

"From my observations at my site inspection the main road appears capable of accommodating the potential hazard of additional turning heavy vehicles for distribution to or from the wider road network without any undue impact on existing traffic. "

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