One of Britain’s biggest quarrying firms has been given a 20-year extension for operations at a site on the Dundee/Angus border which is expected to give up more than two million tonnes of rock before the end of its working life.
The Devonian age Cunmont quarry near Newbigging is currently not being used for mineral extraction by owners Breedon.
However, Angus councillors have rubber-stamped a planning bid which reinforces conditions applied to the development and could see an annual average of 200,000 tonnes removed when operations recommence.
Development standards committee councillors meeting in Forfar considered the application made by one of the company’s three strands, Breedon Northern Ltd, based in Monifieth and employing more than 1,000 people.
The firm also operates Ethiebeaton quarry near Monifieth and Powmyre, close to Glamis.
Quarrying at 26.5 hectacre Cunmont was originally given the go-ahead by the former Angus County Council in 1969 but no planning conditions were attached, meaning rate and volume of extraction was restricted only by the site boundary.
New legislation which came into force in 1981 gave the quarry an expiry date of 2042 and councillors were told further changes under a Scottish planning act in 1997 required local authorities to review the conditions attached to old mineral workings in their area and update consents accordingly, taking account of environmental issued which may not have previously been considered.
It led to 22 planning conditions being attached to a formal planning approval issued in 2001, which allows mineral extraction to continue until February 2042.
Cunmont was used for the manufacture of roadstone for improvements to the nearby A92 dual carriageway between Arbroath and Dundee, and is also currently the site for a Bear Scotland road maintenance depot.
Planning official Alan Hunter told councillors: “It is purely a review of the planning conditions and not an opportunity to consider whether it is an appropriate quarry.”
Breedon has said it plans to carry out quarrying in three phases before the restoration of the land.
The company said: “The rock at Cunmont Quarry will be won by drilling and blasting. The operation will be carried out either by a specialist in-house team or by using specialist drilling contractors.
“Following the introduction of very stringent regulations in recent years all blasts are now individually surveyed, designed and monitored to an exacting specification.”
A planning condition restricts the hours of operation to 7am-7pm on weekdays and 2pm on Saturdays, with no working on Sundays or public holidays.
Noise levels also apply through the attached conditions and the company had been required to submit a full restoration proposal which will include grassland, flora and woodland subject to a five-year aftercare programme. The quarry void will be allowed to fill with water once operations end.