Perth and Kinross Council has extended a public consultation involving two planning applications filed by a company believed to be supplying material for the Cross Tay Link Road (CTLR) project after concerns were aired at a public meeting.
A number of people who attended the most recent meeting of Dunkeld and Birnam Community Council (DBCC) raised a range of concerns about the local authority’s handling of the applications lodged by Mills Contractors relating to its work at Newtyle Quarry.
Their concerns included a lack of notification about the applications and that it appeared no environmental bodies have been consulted about the applications despite them both involving proposals to continue extracting material from the site for a further seven-and-a-half years.
One attendee, Bill Nicoll, said no one listed on a neighbour notification list put together by PKC received a letter to inform them of their right to raise representations concerning the company’s proposals to expand its operation and extend the period of time it can gather slate from the site.
Mr Nicoll said he did not believe the applications should even have been considered competent and verified by the council in the first place, pointing out they had both been logged as seeking to make changes over a “temporary” period.
He noted both applications propose to continue operations at the site until June 2030 and questioned how officials could accept this as being a “temporary” period.
Mr Nicoll also claimed further documents filed, along with one of the applications, show Mills Contractors intend to dig up to 14 metres underground to extract material from the site.
He again questioned why officials had accepted this application as meaning the company was seeking to merely carry out “surface mineral working” at the site.
Mr Nicoll also noted it appeared from the council’s website it had not consulted any external environmental bodies such as SEPA or its own internal environmental health team about the applications.
“Anyone who has looked at these plans can’t possibly come to the conclusion that digging up to 14 metres into the ground can in any way be described as removing material from the surface,” he said.
“One can only begin to imagine what digging into the side of Newtyle Hill is going to be like and what ecological impact that is going to have.
“Clearly something has gone badly wrong with the council process.
“Our view is that at the very least this [consultation] needs to be restarted and extended.”
A second attendee, Finlay McSween, also raised concerns about noise pollution caused by vehicle movements to and from the site and dust caused by crushing operations.
It was said during the meeting the kind of work being carried out at the site can lead to silica dust being released into the atmosphere – a substance one attendee described as being “one of the most harmful substances known to man”.
Inhalation of silica dust is known to cause lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other harmful diseases.
Mr Nicoll and a third attendee, Alex Kettles, also said they were convinced the material Mills Contractors is currently removing from the site is being used for PKC’s CTLR project.
“It’s clear whatever they are pulling out of there at the moment is going to the north of Perth [for the] Tay crossing project,” Ms Kettles said.
“That should not get in the way of the council following due process,” added Mr Nicoll.
Members of DBCC said they would consider raising objections to both applications on behalf of all the attendees who raised concerns and they would seek an extension to the time period it could raise its objections to make sure they were accepted by planners.
Asked about the complaints no neighbour notifications had been received, a PKC spokesperson said this week “an administrative error” had been made meaning no letters were delivered and the council would therefore extend the period of public consultation so interested parties can submit comments.
The spokesperson said: “An administrative error meant notification letters regarding Newtyle Quarry were not sent as intended on November 1.
“This was brought to our attention and letters were subsequently delivered by November 15.”
The spokesperson continued: “An investigation discovered five other instances where neighbour notifications were not issued correctly, including two – for replacement windows and an extension and attic conversion – that have been decided.
“No complaints have been received but we thank the community council for alerting us to this issue.
“Training has been provided to staff to ensure this does not happen again and the period of determination extended for undecided applications.”
Asked to comment on the complaints the applications had been accepted as seeking to make “temporary” changes at the site the PKC spokesperson said it considered quarrying “is a temporary use of land, even though it may take place over a number of years”.
Addressing the conflict of interest claim made at this month’s meeting the spokesperson added: “BAM are the main contractor for the CTLR project and are responsible for purchasing all materials required based on value, need and availability.
“They are keen to source locally as much as possible to support local businesses and reduce their carbon footprint but these decisions are the responsibility of BAM, not PKC.”
Mills Contractors did not respond to a request for comment.