THE operator of a hard rock quarry has been given planning permission to extend its life by nine years.

Back in 2009, the Skene Group, which currently extracts an annual 450,000 tonnes of greywacke – a hard sandstone - at the Soutra Hill facility, was granted an 18-year consent by Scottish Borders Council.

On Monday, the firm’s proposal to extend that consent to 27 years was approved by SBC’s planning committee.

Councillors heard there were no objections to the application which will see the quarry – beside the A68 near the Midlothian county border – lowered by 36 metres to access an estimated 3.9million tonnes of additional material.

One member of the public wrote to support the extension “on the grounds that it will safeguard jobs and provide the region with aggregates, ready mix and concrete blocks”.