North east Fife quarry's lifespan extended by 30 years

The lifespan of a sand and gravel quarry near Leuchars has been extended by 30 years, and extraction activities will likely be ramped up.
Images of the quarry site (Fife Council planning papers)Images of the quarry site (Fife Council planning papers)
Images of the quarry site (Fife Council planning papers)

St Michaels Quarry in Strathburn has been given a new lease on life.

On Wednesday, the quarry’s lifespan was extended by 30 years with permission to extract between 50,000 and 100,000 tonnes of sand and gravel every year.

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Permission for St Michaels Quarry was granted by the former North East Fife District Council back in 1993. They were given 30 years to extract the three million tonnes of reserves.

View of the quarry site from Craigie Hill (Fife Council planning papers)View of the quarry site from Craigie Hill (Fife Council planning papers)
View of the quarry site from Craigie Hill (Fife Council planning papers)

However, for the past 20 years, the quarry was only used intermittently. When the 30 year time limit expired in June 2023, approximately 2.75 million tonnes of aggregate were left under the ground.

On Wednesday, North East Fife planning committee councillors agreed to give the quarry owners at Breedon Trading Ltd an additional 30 years to excavate the site.

“The applicant is essentially asking to update planning permission to accord with present circumstances,” councillors were told.

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“In this case, planning permission exists for a sand and gravel quarry at this site having been granted by the former North East Fife District Council in 1993. The principal in detail is established. Largely speaking, we don’t go through the whole reassessment process.”

Although the quarry has long been established, operations “largely ceased with only minimal extraction” taking place periodically over the last 20 years.

Breedon Trading Ltd, who took ownership of the quarry site in 2012, wants to change that.

“The site is considered to represent a strategic long term reserve for the north Fife area,” planning papers stated. “A reserve of approximately 2.75 million tonnes has been identified. It is proposed that the reserve will be excavated at a rate of 50,000-100,000 tonnes per annum over a period of some 30 years.”

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Councillor David MacDiarmid (SNP for Howe of Fife and Tay Coast) emphasised that the increased volume of extraction will also mean more traffic on the local roads.

“We’re talking about 100,000 tonnes per year and up to 50 road trips per day, and we’re saying there will be no impact on our roads? I find that pretty incredible,” he said.

Committee convener Jonny Tepp (Lib-Dem for Tay Bridgehead) added: “If my understanding is correct, they’ve come nowhere near the limit of traffic volume to date but they’re likely to max it out over the next couple years if we approve this.”

In other words, councillors concluded that the area will see quarry traffic “not seen before” because until now, it’s been used on an intermittent basis.

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However, planning officers insisted that the Transportation team had no objections or concerns about the proposals.

“The bottom line is that we have discussed this with Transportation colleagues and there is no objection to the amount of road trips required,” officers said.

Although councillors did express some concerns, they were ultimately not there to reassess the principal of the quarry itself, and the 30 year extension was approved.