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Controversial Scatsta quarry approved

BRAE businessman Edward Nicolson has been granted planning permission to open up a new quarry near Sullom Voe Terminal despite concern that this could lead to an over supply of stone and aggregate to local industry.
The council’s planning board on Wednesday allowed EMN Plant to open up a 1.7 hectare area adjacent to Scatsta airport on land to the north of the runway of the airport, which is mainly used by the oil industry.
The plan to extract 300,000 tonnes of rock over a 20 year period had attracted 12 letters of objections, but was mainly opposed by rival company Garriock Bros, of Brae, who operate the Sullom Mine quarry, 10 miles away.
Representing the objector, Arthur Robertson told the meeting in the council chambers that as land owner and recipient of income from the mineral right, the council had a clear interest and therefore was biased in favour of the applicant.
Mr Robertson added that an adequate supply of quarry materials existed in Shetland and that there was no need for any further quarries.
He also said that because of the council’s interest in the matter no planning application fee had been paid by the applicant, a statement that was refuted by planning officers who confirmed that the fee had been paid.
They also insisted that there were sufficient checks and balances in place to allow them to assess any application on its merits. “We could not be biased,” head of planning Iain McDiarmid said.
Speaking in support of the application, EMN director Ellis Nicolson said that the company’s plans to create a new quarry was based on increased demand at Sullom Voe Terminal itself, as well as expected future high demand for the £500 million gas processing plant that oil company Total has started to build nearby.
He said that opening up a quarry near the industrialised area would enable them to quarry stone near to where it was needed and limit traffic through neighbouring villages, particularly Brae,
“The Total development is an opportunity for growth. It is estimated that they will require 400,000 tonnes for that development. There will be huge demand,” he said.
Concern about dust and birds that could be attracted by two settlement ponds had been dealt with in discussions with airport management and also by imposing a condition that the ponds will have to be covered by netting.