Save Gillies Hill Petition Objecting to Planning Application 14/00742/FUL / Continuation of quarrying, new access road and public car park including restoration proposals / Murrayshall Quarry Polmaise Road To Carron Reservoir Stirling

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Save Gillies Hill Petition Objecting to Planning Application 14/00742/FUL / Continuation of quarrying, new access road and public car park including restoration proposals / Murrayshall Quarry Polmaise Road To Carron Reservoir Stirling

This petition had 5,443 supporters

Save Gillies Hill started this petition to Senior Planning Officer - Stirling Council Development Management and Planning and Policy Jane Brooks-Burnett

Gillies Hill is in danger of being changed forever.  Gillies Hill is where Robert the Bruce placed his sma' folk or ghillies before calling them down in a decisive moment on the second day of the Battle of Bannockburn ensuring a victory for the Scots in 1314. The Hill also contains two Iron Age forts, early 19th century lime-kilns, a myriad of limestone tunnels; and the ruins of Polmaise Castle, the last of the homes of the Murrays of Touchadam, the local lairds for 600 years.

700 years since the invaders from the south were driven out, Gillies Hill faces new invaders in the form of Patersons Quarries Ltd. who are planning to reactivate and expand the old Murrayshall Quarry thus impacting on the recreational value of the hill; the character of the community; the view of the hill from the surrounding countryside; the neighborhoods and parks along the HGV route to the M9; and the wildlife, historical trees, and flora.

We the undersigned OBJECT to the planning application 14/00742/FUL of 01 Dec 2014 titled, “Continuation of quarrying, new access road and public car park including restoration proposals at Murrayshall Quarry Polmaise Road To Carron Reservoir Stirling and submitted by Patersons Quarries Ltd. for the following reasons:

TRANSPORTATION, TRAFFIC, AND ROAD SAFETY: Renewed quarrying would mean that heavy goods vehicles would make 132 trips per day along Polmaise Road, an unsuitable, unclassified, country lane, much used by walkers, cyclists, and equestrians all of whom enjoy the area because of its peace, tranquillity and spectacular views. If the quarry is opened 300,000 tonnes of quarry stone will be extracted each year for the next 40 years removing 12 million tonnes all together ALL of which will be transported by road with each lorry carrying between 20 and 29 tonnes of quarry stone on the outward journey.

Polmaise Road also serves as the main corridor for a significant number of school pupils of St. Ninians Primary School and Stirling High School thus bringing these children into potential conflict with obvious danger.

The proposed route passes a hospital, children’s nursery, sheltered accommodation, and Stirling’s prestigious public park, Kings Park, passing through Victoria Place, one of the most beautiful streets in Stirling; and past the viewpoint below Stirling Castle at which thousands of tourists stop to take photos each year.

HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Renewed quarrying would lead to the loss of green area for recreation close to Stirling, loss of opportunities for a healthy lifestyle, loss of opportunities for activities especially for the younger generation and loss of unique landscape views.  

Gillies Hill has acted as a healthy lung for the population of Stirling for many years, particularly since quarry operations ceased in 1996. A recorded check on users by Stirling Council Footfall Counters showed that the area is used by over 30,000 people per year  (The counters only counted three of the ten regular access points) for rambling, running, educational field trips, climbing, dog-walking, mountain and BMX cycling, geocaching, photography and wildlife & bird watching.

The Application suggests that these users will not be unduly inconvenienced. Their suggestion of resolving the problem by putting in a chicane for cyclists to protect them from lorries is naive. The appeal of Gillies Hill to most users (User Survey 2013) is the tranquility of the area. How many dog walkers or mothers with toddlers will be happy to walk around the woodland awaiting the next blast or listening to the rumble of machinery? Most recreational users not discouraged by the air quality will certainly be disturbed by heavy machinery and lorry movements.

Gillies Hill is popular because of its peace, tranquility and clean air. None of these issues have been addressed seriously by the Application, even their assertion that they will control the dust has a caveat – “Air Quality Objectives are not EXPECTED to be exceeded” (our caps) When Athletes, such as Scottish Team Members who train around Gillies Hill, and recreational users are in the area they do breath very deeply with the effort – Air Quality is paramount not discretionary!  

LANDSCAPE: Renewed quarrying would mean the destruction of the highest elevations of Gillies Hill and its iconic tree line and grove of five Giant Redwoods which stand as a beacon seen from miles around beloved by local residents as a key hiking destination and for its historical connection to Polmaise Castle.

NO NEED FOR THE ROCK: Renewed quarrying would lead to the use of resources not required to meet Stirling Council’s 10 year landbank requirement, and consequently create a potential disincentive to contractors to recycle construction aggregate. This proposed development would therefore be contrary to LDP Sustainable Development Criteria and Primary Policy 11.  Renewed quarrying could also open the door to further quarrying and landfill operations on Gillies Hill.

FLORA (PLANTS): Renewed quarrying will significantly reduce any remaining semi-natural ancient woodland on the apex of Gillies Hill along with its associated understorey soils and flora that have taken centuries to become established. Additionally renewed quarrying will reduce the overall population of Scots pine (natural, plantation and regenerating) on Gillies Hill by a significant amount through the destruction of several pine groves in the northern and eastern sections of the quarry zone, as well as the upper terrace of the old quarry which has been colonized with a young woodland of Scots pine and birch which will provide future habitat for red squirrels and pine martens if left undisturbed.

Renewed quarrying will undoubtedly spread the seeds of pirri pirri bur (Acaena ovalifolia) - an invasive non-native plant that occurs throughout the quarry zone whose seeds cling to nearly anything that passes - throughout Scotland wreaking the same kind of ecological havoc that is currently occurring on Lindisfarne.

FAUNA (WILDLIFE): Renewed quarrying will drive away the animals currently living within the quarry zone including UK protected species such as red squirrels, pine martens, badgers, peregrine falcons, and three species of bats.

Red squirrels are well established in our woodlands and have been photographed with their dreys within the proposed quarry zone.  Renewed quarrying will drive them further into already occupied or unsuitable habitat potentially reducing their numbers to a “point of no return.” 

Pine martens, which have only recently returned to the Stirling area, have been photographed within the quarry permission zone. It would be tragic to have them driven away so soon after they have re-established their population on the hill. Additionally Stirling Council’s Local Development Plan’s Green Network continuum that runs from Loch Carron through Sauchie Crag, Murray’s Wood and Gillies Hill to Gargunnock and beyond will potentially be disrupted. 

Badgers will be faced with crossing the new quarry access road that will pass through one of two known badger foraging habitats on the southern slope of Gillies Hill. They will also face 132 lorries per day traveling down Polmaise Road that the badgers use to get from their setts to their foraging grounds.

Loch Kruse, one of Gillies Hill’s few perennial lochs to the east of the Giant Redwood grove and which contains a healthy population of palmate newts will be drained and destroyed. Renewed quarrying will also destroy the cliff side habitat of peregrine falcons.

HISTORY: Renewed quarrying would dishonour one of the most iconic historical sites in Scotland.  In addition to it being the site where Robert the Bruce placed his sma' folk or ghillies before calling them down from the hill in a decisive moment on the second day of the Battle of Bannockburn ensuring a victory for the Scots, the Hill also contains two Iron Age forts, Gillies Hill Fort and Wallstale Dun: early 19th century lime-kilns which have already been damaged by both quarrying and quarry lorries in the recent past; a myriad of limestone tunnels; and the ruins of Polmaise Castle. 

Please take action now to ensure that our beautiful and historic hill is protected for future generations.  Thank-you.

Petition Closed

This petition had 5,443 supporters