The owner of an Aberdeenshire livery said he’s “totally enraged” the Scottish Government overturned an Aberdeenshire Council decision to allow a quarry to be built next to his land.
Douglas Smith, who has run Muirtack Livery north-west of the Toll of Birness for the past five years, said he fears the decision to allow a new quarry to be built next to his property could greatly disturb the animals, and be the end of his business.
Proposals for the new industrial site, by the company Chap, had been thrown out by Aberdeenshire councillors, who argued the development would result in a loss of agricultural land, a negative impact on the rural landscape and fears for road safety.
They also said there were concerns there is not enough demand for the sand and gravel the quarry would extract.
It was the second time Chap Group’s proposals were rejected, with a previous bid being knocked back by councillors in 2018.
However, after an appeal by the firm against the local councillors’ decision, a Scottish Government reporter has ruled the project can go ahead, subject to conditions.
Mr Smith said: “We got notification that the quarry had been given the green light, and I’m totally enraged that it’s going ahead.
“Chap has stated there will be no noise impact, yet machinery will be used from 7.30am Monday to Friday, and they’ve stated there will be no dust pollution, but I find that highly unlikely that particles won’t be going into the air.
“People with horses want peace and quiet, and over the years we have invested thousands of pounds in the facilities around the yard.
“My worry is that once this starts it will upset the horses, who are very sensitive to noise, and the business I have built up will fall apart, frankly, I think there’s a risk everyone with a horse here will leave.”
Hugh Cragie, managing director of Chap, said: “We were delighted that the reporter upheld our planning appeal.
“Significant effort was invested in addressing the only outstanding issue from the previous appeal, the access road, and so it was disappointing that our revised application was rejected and an appeal was necessary.
“There is a very real scarcity of sand resource in the north-east and we are pleased that the reporter has acknowledged this issue and that this quarry will go some way to addressing this.
“Muirtack, while only a small quarry, will play a central and integral role in ensuring the ongoing employment of those within our quarries division.
“With regards to the points made by Douglas Smith, his concerns have been addressed fully through the planning process with predicted noise and dust emissions assessed by the appropriate statutory body and accepted as being within permissible levels.
“Dust and noise levels will also be monitored when the quarry is active.
“Chap has successfully operated a much larger quarry in Deeside for more than 30 years without issue and so we are confident that this will also be the case at Muirtack.”