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Residents living near Banavie Quarry will notice a marked improvement in the quality of their lives if a new planning application for increased working at the site is approved by Highland Council.
So members of Kilmallie Community Council heard last week when they held their monthly July meeting virtually.
Operators Breedon Northern Ltd has applied to the council for an extension of the quarry size as well as a time extension to the existing quarry incorporating revised workings and progressive restoration of the landscape.
The community council heard that Breedon had taken note of local concerns with regard to asphalt production at the Banavie site and as a result had obtained a separate planning permission for a new asphalt plant at Carrs Corner at Fort William.
Therefore the proposed extension for the quarry excludes the continued production of asphalt from the Banavie site and the intention is to take the existing plant down prior to the implementation of any permission for further mineral working at the site.
The new application proposes the extraction of up to 80,000 tonnes of hard rock aggregates per annum with an extension of the quarry’s operational lifespan to 2045.
The proposal is seeking a 3.65 hectare expansion bringing the site size to some 16.33 hectares and there would be extensive restoration carried out on the landscape.
While the extension would see a continuation of the average 40 lorry movements a day from the quarry, the transfer of the asphalt plant to Carrs Corner would also mean the end to any overnight operations at the Banavie site.
Community council secretary Russell Leaper said one of the biggest concerns surrounding the existing quarry operations had been the overnight working by the roads maintenance-focused asphalt plant, with lorries going up and down the road during the evening.
‘It might not mean a great change as far as the number of lorries leaving the quarry overall is concerned, but the big difference would be the change to overnight working and working hours,’ said Councillor Leaper.
‘They would be able to shift the stone from Banavie Quarry to Carrs Corner and it would be a significant change for residents living along the road.’
Councillor Leaper said the current proposal also involved addressing the cliff face at the back of the site and grading it so it was less steep.
‘That was a condition of the previous application that wasn’t met and I think we should expect that to be met this time,’ he commented.
‘Perhaps some more pressure needs to be put on the quarry to ensure that phased restoration does happen. They did try before but it failed.
‘But a new company has now taken over and the current plans looks to be more feasible.’
Local Highland councillor Denis Rixson (Caol and Mallaig) added that previous attempts to lessen the visual impact had not worked because the cliff face was too steep.
‘The long-term interests of the residents of Banavie is that this area looks as natural as possible,’ he said.