Colliery plan will benefit area, says firm

East Dunbartonshire Council HQ 'Kirkintilloch'20 01 18'KG
East Dunbartonshire Council HQ 'Kirkintilloch'20 01 18'KG

The company behind a project to restore a former colliery in Twechar has responded to concerns raised by local people and their elected representatives.

CEMEX UK’s planning application, which concerns the former Gartshore Colliery, was narrowly passed by the planning committee at East Dunbartonshire Council on Tuesday, January 14.

The long-term project will involve quarrying two million tonnes of hard dolomite rock from the huge site, but a number of residents have raised concerns over issues such as the number of heavy vehicles travelling to and from the site.

Donald Wilkins, development planner at CEMEX UK, insists the project will bring considerable benefits to the area.

He said: “The Gartshore proposal would lead to social, economic and environmental benefits to the local and regional area.

“The project would create new employment in the area, support the local construction and building industry through the provision of high quality building products and ensure the site is suitably managed during operations.

“Restoration proposals involve the creation of wetlands, grassland and woodland 
areas which would lead to significant environmental benefits and incorporate public access proposals to provide a link from Twechar to the Mosswater Local Nature Reserve.

“The residents’ concerns with regards to the potential for HGVs to travel through the village of Twechar were raised at the pre-application stage of the process. The proposals include a number of measures to minimise the likelihood of HGVs travelling through Twechar.

“These include a revised junction design which requires HGVs to turn left when exiting the site and turn right when entering the site. The junction will also include signage to advise vehicles that no right turn when exiting the site is permitted.

“Furthermore, as a result of the likely market area the site would serve, it is anticipated that the vast majority of the HGVs will travel to the motorway network (M80 /M73).

“We note that the Planning Board resolved to grant permission, subject to the agreement of a routing agreement to and from the quarry, which should provide further reassurances to the local community.”

However, even with the planning permission in place there is no guarantee the project will proceed as the Gartshore site is one of several which CEMEX has recently sold to another company.

Mr Wilkins added: “As you have stated, CEMEX is in the process of selling some of its UK assets to Breedon Aggregates and the former Gartshore colliery is included in this deal.

“The decision to proceed with the development will therefore be Breedon’s.”

The councillors who opposed the proposals – including the three whose ward includes Twechar, namely Labour’s Stewart McDonald, John Jamieson of the SNP and Liberal Democrat Susan Murray – were concerned about the enforcement of truck movements, especially as these vehicles would belong to various contractors rather than CEMEX themselves, despite assurances that infractions would be punished by denying future access to the site or potentially all CEMEX  locations in the UK.

In all, the council received 49 letters concerning the application, 41 of which were objections.

The concerns raised related to HGVs, risk of flooding near the entrance, noise and air pollution, the site’s proximity to nature reserve and the Antonine Wall, limited job creation and  impact on green belt and biodiversity.