Public hearing to be held over quarry extension plan

Kilmartin Castle dating back to 1550 now contends with quarry noise inside its walls, says owner Stef Burgeon

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Villagers in historic Kilmartin will get a public hearing before a neighbouring quarry is allowed to expand.

A controversial scheme proposed by MacLeod Construction Limited to extend its sand and gravel quarry went before members of Argyll and Bute’s Planning, Protective Services and Licensing Committee last week.

MacLeod’s bid to expand the north eastern side of the existing quarry, which would add an extra volume of around 700,000 tons extracted from the site annually, attracted 201 expressions of support and 54 against.

Council officers recommended the planning permission in principle should be granted, subject to the holding of a public hearing.

Dunadd Community Council were among those who raised concerns that noise from the quarry was ‘often excessive’.

After last Wednesday’s meeting Stef Burgeon who runs luxury accommodation at the 16th century Kilmartin Castle with partner Simon Hunt and was one of the objectors said: ‘I am thankful that the councillors  heard our objections and understand that there is clearly an issue with noise from Kilmartin Quarry in this small village.

‘As it is entirely possible for Kilmartin Quarry to fully operate, and at the same time take measures to reduce their noise levels, I am happy that the community will now have the opportunity to share their experiences of living with this noise, and the impact it will have on their businesses, should it be able to carry on without planning conditions to mitigate it.’

A report from council officers said noise mitigation measures had been invested in by the quarry  and that the most recent assessment demonstrated that it was having the desired effect with the works ‘practically inaudible’ at the survey locations.

Environmental Health was also content with those findings said the report but councillors heard at the meeting that officers had only taken the word from an independent environmental consultant that the council had approved. There were also claims from opposition that the sound tests had been carried out at the wrong place and not from where the houses are.

Committee members, who agreed a virtual public hearing should go ahead, were  told there were separate ongoing investigations by the council’s environmental health service under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which are still to be concluded.

Jane MacLeod from MacLeod Construction Limited said baffles and other noise reduction steps taken by the company had reduced noise levels significantly, although previous noise levels were ‘very close to and often within permitted levels,’ she said, adding the consultant’s report sent to the council indicated that noise levels are now ‘below background noise’ such as passing vehicles and birdsong, and were well within permitted levels.