A DECISION to reject controversial plans for a Peeblesshire quarry has been overturned – with the move labelled “environmental vandalism”.

The bid at South Slipperfield by Stonepack Ltd. was refused by the council due to concerns over landscape impact and an ethylene pipeline running through the site.

The firm appealed to the Scottish Government, stating that its sand and gravel quarry near West Linton would result in a “broad range of benefits”.

READ MORE: Stonepack appeals SBC decision on Peeblesshire quarry

And the West Lothian-based firm has been successful in overturning the refusal.

The Quarries Action Group fought against the plans for almost three years.

It said it was “very disappointed” with the decision.

A spokesperson said: “We fought against this development for many reasons, all of which are accessible on the Scottish Borders Council (SBC) website, but of particular importance are the detrimental effect this will have on the landscape and the kame, a significant post-glacial hill feature which will be significantly impacted.

“Leading up to the reporter’s decision, SBC had unanimously rejected the application; the local community council unanimously voted against it; nearby local community councils also opposed the development; over 180 letters of objection had been submitted to the council’s planning department; objections and concerns were raised by politicians from across the political spectrum and various technical experts expressed a wide range of environmental and safety concerns, too many to list here.”

The group said it had been told that the government reporter’s decision was final and called for ‘effective political action to correct this’.

Border Telegraph: Tweeddale MP David Mundell (Conservative) has labelled the decision to overturn SBC's refusal of the quarry as environmental vandalismTweeddale MP David Mundell (Conservative) has labelled the decision to overturn SBC's refusal of the quarry as environmental vandalism

MP David Mundell, who represents Tweeddale for the Conservatives, said the community had been “badly let down” by the “entirely wrong decision”.

“With a nearly three-year campaign having been fought by the Quarries Action Group, which I have strongly supported in representations I have made myself opposing the application, the views of local people have been made very clear on this matter,” he said.

“Added to that SBC, quite rightly, refused permission for this development last year as a result of concerns about proximity to INEOS’s ethylene pipeline, the inevitable scarring of the landscape that a quarry would bring and consequential issues arising from the development such as increased HGV traffic on the A702.

“Now the Scottish Government has overturned all of that and given the development the green light, to the clear detriment of the surrounding community. It’s nothing short of an act of environmental vandalism.

“I am clear that quarrying at Slipperfield is not in the interests of the local community and that people living in and around West Linton have been badly let down by this decision by the Scottish Government.”

Border Telegraph: In 2021 members of The Antonine Guard joined protesters on the Roman Road which runs close to the intended quarry site at South SlipperfieldIn 2021 members of The Antonine Guard joined protesters on the Roman Road which runs close to the intended quarry site at South Slipperfield (Image: Quarries Action Group)

David Buylla was appointed by ministers to give the verdict on the appeal decision.

READ MORE: ‘Romans’ offer help to Borders quarry campaign

Mr Buylla said that the adverse effects of the quarry were “insufficient” to overcome the positives.

In his report he said: “The proposal would create five new jobs on the site and there would be economic benefits from the appellant’s proposed investment in the facility.

“Securing a steady supply of sand and gravel for the appellant’s own business and for the construction industry more widely is a positive socio-economic consequence of the proposal.

“Financial benefits to the farming business that is operated by the site owner could also potentially have wider spin-off effects.

“When balanced against these benefits, the adverse effects I have identified are insufficient to overcome the presumption in favour of approval that arises from my finding that the proposal accords, overall, with the development plan.

“I therefore conclude, for the reasons set out above, that the proposed development accords overall with the relevant provisions of the development plan and that there are no material considerations which would still justify refusing to grant planning permission.”

Hayden Thomas, director of Stonepack, said: “Having personally grown up in West Linton, this application was always designed to be as sympathetic to the local area as possible. I look forward to being able to offer employment and positive economic input to the region.”

He said that Stonepack was “very pleased with the outcome”, adding: “I would also like to give thanks for the public and private support that we have received from the local community.”