How Leslie became a ‘boom’ town ...

Lomond Quarry
Lomond Quarry

As blasts go it was widely accepted as “one of the small ones” but for the Leslie residents living closest to Lomond Quarry it had no less significant meaning.

For it marked the 100th explosion to take place at the quarry site since the planning consent allowing the owners to extract dolerite rock from the location came into force in July 2011.

Damage ot 52 Ramsey Gardens, Leslie

Damage ot 52 Ramsey Gardens, Leslie

For those very same residents it represents an unwanted milestone and one they say they “certainly won’t be celebrating”.

Of course there has been a lot that has happened since those early blasts - action groups were formed, campaigns led, independent reviews conducted and liaison committee’s occasionally attended.

One of the key recommendations to come out of that independent review was that of Fife Council to implement an inspection programme whereby a selection of homes situated close to the quarry perimeter are to be structurally surveyed.

Fife Council has now concluded surveys on 17 homes in the area and the findings are due to be presented to Glenrothes councillors when they reconvene after the summer recess in August.

Jim Birrell, Fife Council’s senior planning manager and the man responsible for overseeing progress on all 16 of the key recommendations outlined by the Capita Symonds report into blasting at Lomond Quarry, says the internal and external inspections have now been carried out on the properties earmarked by members of the Lomond Quarry Action Group (LQAG).

“We commissioned specialist consultants, Watermans, to carry out 17 structural surveys of a range of residential properties in Leslie, identified by the LQAG,” Mr Birrell told the Gazette.

“It is anticipated that the surveys will be repeated on a regular basis, possibly annually, to continue to monitor the structural condition of the properties and to record any changes over time.

“This information will be submitted to the Glenrothes Area Committee as part of the regular reporting on the progress being made in implementing the Capita Symonds report recommendations,” he added.

Residents are convinced the soon-to-be-published findings will confirm their claims that structural cracking, and other visible signs of decay is the result of three years of regular blasting.

True or not, the results can’t come quick enough for residents.

Niki Laird, whose Patterson Park home is just 55 metres from the quarry boundary and is one of those who were surveyed, she told the Gazette there have been “visible signs of deterioration” which she feels is linked to the regular blasting.

“We are three years into the blast agreement and we still have a further 17 to go, which is a great concern to me and many of my neighbours,” said Miss Laird.

“There has been cracking and damage that has appeared in that time, I know because I’ve lived her for 20 years. Is it because of the blasting or is it something else that I need to concern myself with?

“I await the survey findings with interest.”

A Ramsey Gardens resident who didn’t wasn’t to be identified said the blasts had “ruined their quality of life” and had them “worried for the long-term condition” of their home now that cracking to walls and steps had occurred.

Quarry owners, Skene Group, have always maintained they operated within the blast limits and have reiterated on numerous occasions that they take their responsibility to the community seriously.

“We observe all the safety requirements and the noise and vibration limits attached to the planning permission,” they told the Gazette previously.

Yvonne Duncan, chairman of the LQAG, is another Patterson Park resident who says examples of cracking and other concerns relating to her property are increasing.

She said: “We urgently need answers as to why damage is happening to our homes.

“Many feel the blasting is the cause of damage, if this is what we are experiencing after just three years, what state are our homes likely to be in years to come?

“Fife Council need to take responsibility for their original planning decision and show a duty of care to residents.”

Councillors are expected to receive the survey reports when the Glenrothes Area Committee next meets on Wednesday, August 13.

Monitoring and mediation the way forward says councillor

Councillor John Wincott, a Leslie resident and whose ward the Lomond Quarry is in said the people of Leslie need to know the long-term effects of blasting have on their homes and health.

He added: “After three years and 100 blasts, many of the people of Leslie are still distressed and annoyed by the blasting at Lomond Quarry.

“Unfortunately, even after the independent review, it has proven to be extremely difficult to do anything to reduce the impact of the blasting on people’s lives.

“However, the Council has now begun the process of monitoring the structure of the homes of people most affected by the blasting, and hopefully this long term strategy will reveal whether or not there is damage being done by the blasts.

“The monitoring that is being put in place goes some way to helping to measure these impacts.

“Also, it now looks like mediation between the various parties can go ahead and so I hope that this process will enable the residents to achieve some of the things that they need to improve the quality of life for people living in the town.”