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Glespin community opposition to Glentaggart coal extension is rejected by Council
05 January 2009
COAL PLAN BACKED
Councillors have backed the extension of opencast mining works closer to a Clydesdale village despite huge opposition from the people living there.
South Lanarkshire Council's planning committee has agreed to ditch conditions in the original planning permission it granted to Scottish Coal in 2000 to mine the Glentaggart site near Glespin, conditions which kept the workings at least 500 metres from the nearest residents.
The council decision to waive these conditions despite 54 residents of the tiny village formally objecting to such a move, will now bring the workings just 280 metres from the nearest home.
At the meeting of the council's planning committee the cases for and against the extensions were heard.
The council's own planning officers were in favour of Scottish Coal's extension bid.
They said that, together, the mining of the sites would take around 30 weeks with between 1000 and 1500 tonnes of coal per week being taken from them. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency had no objection to the scheme and the council's own Environmental Services department also said that it would have no objection so long as suitable conditions were attached to limit noise from workings and blasting plus dust; indications were that works would exceed accepted noise limits for at least part of the development time.
It was this issue that headed up the list of objections from the residents who stated they feared that the quality of life in their rural community would be badly affected,' not only for households but in the nearby village school. To this, a council official replied: "I am satisfied that, although noise levels will be increased in the area, that they will be at a tolerable level and will only be for a limited period."
Other objections, such as lack of benefit to the community from the workings, concern over radioactive dust particles being released into the air by the works, Scottish Coal being able to alter the original environmental conditions under which they were granted permission to exploit Glentaggart and insufficient notification of the extension to residents were all rejected by council officials; they claimed that Glespin had benefited from £50,000 from the Rural Communities Trust set up with mining company monies; their own Environmental Services department had no worries over radioactive dust; "changing market conditions" had led Scottish Coal to seek alterations to their original permissions and neighbour notifications had been carried out properly.
Summing up, the officials state that they are recommending approval because: "The potential environmental impacts on the village caused by noise, dust and vibration can be suitably mitigated by imposition of conditions, operations are for a limited time only, thereby minimising the extent of their potential impact on the village and the proposal will ensure the removal of all winnable mineral deposits from the existing site, followed by its subsequent restoration."
By RON HARRIS