It's Overburns and out to quarry plan -
THE Second Battle of Overburns has ended in victory for those fighting to protect a Clydesdale beautyspot being turned into a massive quarry.
However, one question still lingers: have they won the war?
On Tuesday South Lanarkshire Council threw out for the second time in a year a scheme to extract millions of tons of sand and gravel from Overburns Farm near Coulter.
As with the first bid to quarry the scenic site by developers Patersons, the application for planning permission met with a hail of well-organised opposition from CRAG, the Clyde River Action Group (CRAG).
After the first knock Patersons returned with a modest scheme, slashing amount of material it wished to mine from the site by a quarter to 3.3m tonnes.
This did not change the mind of the campaigners in CRAG and, on Tuesday, also failed to convince councillors to reverse their opposition to the scheme.
The resulting CRAG celebrations were tempered with the knowledge that an appeal against the council decision to the Scottish Government might follow.
Patersons have consistently declined to comment to the press on the Overburns scheme.
Whatever the future holds, this week was one for CRAG to congratulate the council's continued opposition to the giant quarry.
There were strong hints of how the wind was blowing last week when the Gazette, via CRAG, obtained a copy of an expert, council-commissioned report which slated Patersons' own environmental impact study into the Overburns proposal.
Said leading CRAG campaigner, Coulter-based politician and businessman Arthur Bell: "This study backed up, professionally, all that CRAG campaigners have been saying for the thirty months since we first heard of Patersons' proposal.
"The study confirmed this was the wrong site for such an environmentally destructive sand and gravel quarry.
"Central Scotland is already awash with this material and so to lift more of it from the floodplain of the west of Scotland's most important river would have been plain daft.
"I am glad that the council has taken heed of the evidence and took the decision that ensures the survival of wildlife, retains the great natural beauty of the area and secures the outdoor pursuits of thousands of Lanarkshire folk.
"They have voted to prevent a further 25,000 heavy lorry movements a year on very busy and bendy rural roads. The voters of Clydesdale expected no less from them."
Tuesday's council planning committee meeting which rejected Patersons' latest bid heard a report from its officials that the application had faced no fewer than 329 letters of individual objection from local residents.
The council's own planning officers recommended rejection; at the end of a huge report, studying the proposal in detail, they concluded that there was no justification for the quarrying to be given approval.
There were, said the officials, something like 10 years of sand and gravel reserves in Scotland with no urgent need for Overburns to be mined to add to that.
Whatever economic benefits might come of the development, they said, did not outweigh the damage that would be done to one of our area's most scenic stretches of countryside.
Now the CRAG campaigners are waiting to see if Patersons have finally given up on Overburns or if an attempt is made to overturn the local decision with an appeal to the government in Edinburgh.
A host of politicians from across the political spectrum greeted the news as a victory for common sense and local opinion.
By Ron Harris
Carluke and Lanark Gazette