(193)  Harris superquarry and planning delay

Plans for a superquarry on Roineabhal mountain at Lingerbay in the national scenic area of South Harris continue despite many legal difficulties and a decision by the Scottish Ministers in 2000 that planning permission would be refused (see No 89).  The plans, which involve the removal of 550 million tonnes of anorthosite for construction aggregate over 60 years, and entail the virtual disappearance of much of the mountain, were submitted to the Western Isles Council in 1991 but the report of the subsquent public inquiry was not handed to the Minister until 1999.  Following the Minister’s decision to refuse permission, the contractors Lafarge Redland Aggregates issued a legal challenge which the Scottish Executive then announced would not be defended, recognising that the original decision letter was legally flawed.  The Executive called for resubmissions in order to enable a new decision to be taken, the deadline being 26 July 2002.  But it has now emerged that no decision will be taken until a decision has been reached on a further appeal by Lafarge, against a Ministerial ruling that a planning permission for a quarry at Lingerbay, granted in 1965, is now largely invalid.  The whole saga is now Scotland’s longest-running planning application.  For some interesting background see Alistair McIntosh, Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power (2001).