June 3, 2015
Who does planning system serve?
Is our planning system intended to be, in any meaningful sense, democratically accountable? Or is it there to be manipulated by large corporations who can throw money and resources behind one appeal after another until they get their way? That is the very real question a group of South Lanarkshire communities are asking as they attempt to fight off a quarrying company that simply will not take no for an answer.
The apparent objective of Patersons of Greenoakhill Ltd is to re-apply to quarry on the floodplain of the River Clyde. That is on a site almost as big as Biggar, at Overburns Farm and lying between Lamington, Symington and Coulter.
The principal local objectors to this plan are Clyde River Action Group (CRAG2015), strongly supported across parties by MSPs Aileen Campbell, Claudia Beamish,and Jim Hume, and by the new Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell MP.
CRAG2015 is gravely concerned that a virtually identical third plan is to be submitted, on a sensitive environmentally important site. Two former applications have been unanimously rejected by South Lanarkshire Council. They further have been rejected by a public enquiry set up by The Scottish Government, then by an additional appeal to The Court of Session challenging this decision.
Arthur Bell CRAG2015 spokesman said: “Just how many democratic rejections must it take before these applicants understand this community has no wish for this project? It is a dangerous application that will scar the beautiful landscape below iconic Tinto Hill for all time. It will cause road hazards on the A702, and will destroy some of British rivers’ finest trout and grayling fishing. Thus the pleasure for walkers and anglers, for bird watchers and visiting families from all over Lanarkshire, will be greatly diminished. Tourism activities, like canoes and wild swimming, and jobs will be lost, and regular fierce flooding will wreck adjacent downriver farms.
It has become apparent during our long campaign that we are not alone as rural communities in suffering a large organisation muscling in, and repeatedly trying to gain planning permission for utterly inappropriate developments. Such repeated applications are made to wear down the opposition, and to financially crush the communities. Eventually tired residents retire from the fray, and the applicant wins. No matter how wrong the proposals. We will not allow such rape and pillage of our beautiful environment to happen here in South Lanarkshire.”
The CRAG2015 team will now petition the Scottish Parliament on the need to stop such multiple, repeated, planning applications on inappropriate sites, which the communities rejects. Help is in hand from MSPs and the Public Petitions department at Holyrood, and further details will be announced.