Show That You Care....
That's the hope that emerged from a well-attended AGM of Save Gillies Hill (SGH) on May 30 - the mood was sombre as facts emerged to suggest that the resumption of blasting could be closer now than it has been since the SGH campaign was launched seven years ago.
The campaign seemed to have won a major battle, if not the war, last October when every political party at Viewforth agreed to back a Suspension Order to "suspend the ability of the quarry operator from working minerals at the site until certain steps, including a full Environmental Impact Assessment, were taken." That's what was stated in the official minute of the meeting. Suspicions that something wasn't quite right emerged in January when many were shocked to learn that the Suspension Order motion had not even been forwarded to the Scottish Government for confirmation.
Community council secretary Douglas Campbell wanted to know why not and, with complete justification, started to bombard Stirling Council chief executive Bob Jack with that very question. Apart from an initial acknowledgement, there was total silence and that has led to the community council taking out a complaints procedure against the chief executive.
The Suspension Order itself was eventually sent to Holyrood in April - SIX MONTHS after the unanimous decision of the full Stirling Council.
Then more disturbing facts started to emerge. A new quarry operator, the large Lanarkshire firm of Patersons of Greenoakhill, had entered the scene. And the ownership of the hill itself was changing. Tarmac may be selling out, leaving Drygrange Estates /Patersons Quarries in charge.
Then May brought a bombshell - the much-vaunted Suspension Order didn't really suspend anything. Why was that not known in October last year at the full council meeting? Did the chief exec and his legal team know that back then? We may never get proper answers to these two questions.
This was the scenario that was presented to the 60 attendees at the SGH AGM. To everyone's credit, the meeting concentrated on what could be done in future rather than dwelling on recriminations about the past. First priority is to launch a publicity onslaught in order to attract a record attendance at the March of the Ghillies to the Borestone on Sunday, June 23.
Marchers should meet at 1.30pm at the St Ninians Road entrance to the King George V Park. Bring a few friends. Main speaker is eminent historian and Stirling Smith Director Elspeth King, supported by Anne McGuire MP and Bruce Crawford MSP .
The aim is to turn this campaign into a matter not just of local but of national and international importance - will Scots around the world be happy to celebrate the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn if they know that the setting for an integral party of the story, the role of the sma' folk or the ghillies, was being desecrated, that natural beauty was being replaced by man-made ugliness?
Forty thousand people were electronically recorded as having visited Gillies Hill last year but its delights are still unknown to many, even local residents. Take a walk up the hill, check out the three brochures giving details of its treasures in terms of local history, flora and fauna, sports and recreation etc.
Come along to the gala week walk on Thursday, June 13 - meet community centre at 6.15pm. You may see red squirrels, badgers, roe deer, pine martens, peregrine falcons, ancient Scots pines or Californian redwood sequoia.
The CC has also been busy reminding people of Cambusbarron's links to 1314. For example, Bruce's Well will be restored this month, thanks to Richard Blore's Total Landscapes and let's not forget that the Bonnety Tree is to be replanted soon.
There's so much going on. When you are convinced that Gillies Hill is worth preserving, and undoubtedly you will be, then tell your friends, workmates, coun- cillors, council officials, your MSP, your MP, the Press and all your social media contacts. Such direct action is needed or all will be lost.