Unfortunately when we read it we realised that there were major problems, and in our view it is not worth the paper it is printed on.
The first thing is that we now learn a “Suspension Order” has no legal power to suspend anything. It takes its name not from any inherent powers of the Order, but from the existing working status of the quarry. Since Murrayshall Quarry has been dormant or suspended since 1996 then the regulations state that this “Suspension Order” can only deal with a very narrow range of issues, chiefly relating to environmental issues in the dormant quarry. Needless to say this is not what we were led to believe by Stirling Council (SC) officials, and we are not alone. SC elected members voted unanimously on 11th October 2012 on a Motion, that they were advised by their own legal officers, would “suspend” quarrying operations and lead to a new review of the quarry, informed by an Environmental Impact Assessment. (EIA) In our opinion this advice was clearly wrong.
Secondly, if the Suspension Order doesn’t suspend anything , what does it try to do? SC claim that it requires the quarry operators to provide an EIA, but then confuses the issue by stating that this study should only refer to the period when the quarry is dormant. There does not seem to be a requirement to do an EIA for the period after the quarry restarts (if it ever does!)
The aims of the Community Council have been consistent. We have demanded that before any new quarrying takes place at Murrayshall, a full statutory review of the planning permission must be carried out, informed by an EIA. We are convinced that this “Suspension Order” goes nowhere near ensuring this will be the outcome.
However it has now been issued, and the landowners and the quarry operators have until 17th May to respond. The Scottish Government also have a scrutinising role, and we suspect they will reject it out of hand.
At a recent meeting your Community Council forcefully expressed these views and as a result SC agreed to carry out an independent review of the “Suspension Order”. They agreed to meet representatives of the Community Council again on 21st May when the reaction of the landowners and quarry operators might be available. SC have also advised us that the new quarry operator who has taken over the lease for the Drygrange Estate land has volunteered to provide an EIA for an early review. Needless to say the Community Council is not convinced by these verbal assurances and will continue to press for a formal statutory review.
Come along to the next Community Council meeting to hear a fuller report of what is happening