By James Crosthwaite, Dumbarton East and Central Community


On March 11 a representative of the Silverton and Overtoun Community Council attended and spoke in opposition to an extension to Sheephill Quarry.

The review of WP98/076 ROMP (Renewal Of Minerals Permission) and additionally a site Restoration Bond DC02/447 will also be considered (postponed since 2005).

This unsigned legal agreement, at 15 years, is the longest outstanding planning issue currently with West Dunbartonshire Council.

Apart from substantial objections from residents, in relation to noise, amenity etc. the quarrying of Sheephill is primarily objected to because it is the site of a vitrified Iron Age fort of historical and archaeological importance, where cup and ring marks were discovered.

Whilst these were cut away and removed, this site remains historically important and could, by this decision, be finally destroyed.

The original permission to quarry at this location was only obtained from the Scottish office – on appeal – in 1949, however, the permission to quarry cannot now be removed by WDC, they are only able to impose ‘modern conditions’ , but if in doing so, they increase operating costs through imposition of those new conditions, WDC must then compensate them financially.

Only in 2042 would WDC be able to constrain, or prevent any further quarrying without providing financial recompense.

As part of this review, the applicant now also wishes to ask for an extension to the quarry. At the moment the operator is able to quarry 24/7, but with the imposition of ‘modern conditions’ this would see the operator have to take account of amenity, environmental and landscape concerns, amongst others.

The extension application has a proposal to have an excambion area, where the operator would swap an area, away from that which they already have permission to quarry.

On reading the WDC planning pages, only one letter of support was submitted, however, West of Scotland Archaeology Service have indicated, that in terms of the ROMP application, any sites discovered during the soil stripping will be “excavated, analysed and published”, and in terms of the extension, the necessary archaeological investigation should be secured by the attachment of a condition requiring the implementation of a programme of archaeological works.

Councillors decided to further negotiate with applicant Thomsons. When will this end?