A quarry company is a step closer to winning approval for a controversial expansion near Blairgowrie.
Laird Aggregates has been told it can go ahead with its plan for Marlee Quarry, as long as it can reach a legal agreement with Perth and Kinross Council.
The firm appealed to the Scottish Government after the council rejected its application last year.
Locals had sent more than 100 objections to planners.
A Scottish Government reporter has now signalled they are prepared to uphold Laird Aggregates’ appeal.
But the move has been branded a “slap in the face” for local democracy.
Local councillor Bob Brawn said the Blairgowrie quarry ruling appeared to “minimise or trivialise all the concerns of local people”.
And Murdo Fraser MP has written to the Scottish Government urging it not to overturn the planning committee’s unanimous decision.
He said: “There is a pattern here where the Scottish Government is riding roughshod over local residents’ concerns.”
Blairgowrie quarry move rejected by councillors
Marlee Quarry supplies all of the road grit to Tayside Contracts, which covers the council areas of Perth and Kinross, Angus and Dundee City.
It also supplies ready-mix concrete to the construction industry.
The quarry, to the south-west of Blairgowrie, has been in operation for more than 20 years and employs 10 people.
Laird Aggregates wants to expand it into neighbouring fields.
That would allow for about 75,000 tonnes of sand and gravel to be extracted each year.
Locals had raised road safety concerns, as well as the impact of noise and dust on nearby properties.
There were also warnings that the development could damage the local visitor economy.
Perth and Kinross Council’s planning committee refused the company’s application in 2022.
The council said it had taken into account the potential harms to nearby homes and conservation sites.
However, the Scottish Government’s planning appeals division has overruled that decision.
Its ruling states: “The reporter is minded to grant permission subject to a legal agreement being reached.”
Final approval has been deferred to allow discussions to take place.
Quarry appeal decision points to wider issues, say critics
Murdo Fraser MSP has written to Joe Fitzpatrick, Minister for Local Government, Empowerment and Planning, asking him to block consent.
Mr Fraser said: “This was a planning application that attracted widespread opposition from local residents, many of whom live in close proximity to the site.
He went on: “I have stressed to the Minister for Local Government that he must appreciate the anger that there is in the local community due to the decision of the democratically elected local planning authority now about to be overturned by Scottish Ministers.
“There is a pattern here where the Scottish Government is riding roughshod over local residents’ concerns.”
Councillor Bob Brawn said there was considerable opposition to the project.
“For the Reporter (appointed by Scottish Ministers) to ignore this and seemingly minimise or trivialise all the concerns of local people and elected members is yet another slap in the face for local democracy,” he said.
“And it shows once again that this appeal process needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.”
Perth and Kinross Council was asked to comment.