Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Blast row Fife quarry branded 'potentially a nuisance'

A quarry next door to housing
Image caption Lomond Quarry which has been the subject of complains by local residents

Complaints by local residents about noise levels at a Fife quarry have been justified.

An independent report has said operations at the complex in the village of Leslie are "potentially a nuisance".

The inquiry into Lomond Quarry was ordered by Fife Council and followed widespread unrest in the local community.

The quarry operators, Skene Group, said the report was "deeply flawed".

Residents had complained about noise from high explosive blasting as well as vibration and dust levels.

Welcoming the report, Fife Council leader Councillor Alex Rowley said: "There has been an impact on a number of residents and everything possible must be done to address this now."

Consultants discovered the quarry has been operating within the levels laid down for noise, dust and vibration in the original planning consent.

But the report suggested the planning conditions and noise management plan had set noise limits at too high a level - at times at least 10 decibels (dB) too high.

Golf course

The report said this "suggests that the noise complaints are justified and that potentially the quarry noise is causing a nuisance".

Lomond Quarry is close to Leslie Golf Course and less than 100m from local houses.

It has been operated by Skene Group since 1981, when it was granted planning permission for sand and gravel extraction. In 2009, consent was granted to extract hard rock and allowed blasting methods for the first time at the site.

Since then there have been numerous complaints and local residents set up a Lomond Quarry Action Group to represent their interests and persuade the local authority to commission a report.

Welcoming the report, Mr Rowley said: "It is a thorough independent analysis of the operation and the impact the Quarry is having on the local community.

"In particular, there is no doubt noise and vibration levels have caused distress, and whilst the report confirms the quarry is operating in line with planning consent and approved plans for managing noise, dust and vibration, there are specific recommendations that the current monitoring procedures should be reviewed. I agree."

The report will now go before councillors who will be asked to develop a response action plan in partnership with Skene and the community liaison group, ensuring the recommendations are being taken forward within three months.

Cllr Rowley added: "I called for this independent report to ensure the difficulties facing local people were fully acknowledged and to get further advice on what steps could be taken to improve things.

"This report offers a new starting point and the only way forward is for the council and Skene to work in partnership with the local community. No improvements will be made without that."

'Fundamental error'

Neil Skene, managing director of the Skene Group, said: "The Skene Group notes that the author of the report has concluded that the company has not breached any of the planning conditions attached to the quarry in Leslie.

"However, many of the contents of this report are deeply flawed, are undermined by properly-sourced evidence and contradict the findings of the Reporter in the recent appeals upheld in December 2012.

"Possibly the most significant flaw in the Capita Symonds report is the failure to properly interpret and apply Scottish government guidance on setting values for noise limits for quarries. This fundamental error renders many of the conclusions in the rest of the report invalid."

He added: "The Skene Group wants to be a good neighbour to the people of Leslie.

"In addition to creating valuable jobs, we will always take on board any reasonable suggestions from the community, such as the recent re-routing of lorries. We will continue to work with the community and Fife Council to address any issues that arise involving the Lomond Quarry."

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