Sleeping giant can dream on
Thursday, 24 October 2002
Quarry says safety plans will not detract from landscape
The Lennox Herald Thursday 24th October 2002
By WILLIAM COCHRANE
RUMOURS that a quarry firm is about to give Dumbarton’s sleeping giant a rude awakening have been blasted.
Dumbuck Hill, on the outskirts of the town near Milton, is reckoned to resemble a giant man lying on his back.
Also known to some as the elephant’s head, the hill is one of the area’s best-known and most distinctive landmarks.
But it has also been home to a quarry for well over 50 years.
And bosses there say they must cut a slice from the hillside to prevent huge chunks of rockface falling away, compromising safety.
Aggregate Industries, which has run Dumbuckhill Quarry since late 2000, has applied for planning permission to remove a sliver from the western margin of the quarry at the Milton side.
The application has sparked a backlash from some villagers, who worry that commercial gain will be put before the district’s heritage.
They have expressed fears that the height of the hill could be reduced by up to 25 metres if the application is approved by West Dunbartonshire Council in November.
If that happens, they say, the famous giant and elephant resemblances would disappear forever.
Aggregate Industries, though, has dismissed such suggestions.
The firm insists that the 25 metres some objectors have referred to is in fact the horizontal distance between existing and proposed faces, which will enable stabilisation.
They say the ground level of the hill will be reduced by just four metres at most and that the work is essential to maintain safety standards at the quarry.
Glyn Jones, estate surveyor Scotland for Aggregate Industries, said: “The sliver we want to remove will alter the ground profile by four metres vertically along a 20-metre strip.
“The profile of the hill will not visibly change because the profile is depicted by vegetation cover and not ground level.
“We are sensitive to the fact that the appearance of the hill is important to people and hence, in agreement with Scottish Natural Heritage and West Dunbartonshire Council, will carry out tree planting on the Milton slope to infill gaps within the tree belt.
“The work we propose to carry out is essential to stabilise parts of the quarry and prevent loose pieces of rock falling from the cliff-faces.
“This problem has been caused historically through previous blasting methods.”
Mr Jones, however, did admit that machinery would be partly visible on the skyline for up to five months when the work begins.
However, he added that after that initial period of stabilisation work, most remaining activity would take place in the quarry’s existing void space and out of sight.
That could go on for between two and three years.
Mr Jones said: “Most people, once we have explained to them why this application has been submitted and what it consists of, have no problems.
“We have a good relationship with the local community and regularly hold liaison meetings with them as and when required.”
But some locals are still unconvinced by Aggregate Industries’ promises and are urging West Dunbartonshire Council to keep the district’s heritage uppermost in mind when considering the application next month.
Charles Villiers, who lives just yards from Dumbuck Hill at Milton, said: “The profile of Dumbuck Hill is that of an elephant’s head and local lore has it that this shape, which is so prominent from near and far, is a reason for the elephant being contained in the Dumbarton coat of arms.
“It would be a sad day if this profile, which for many centuries has been a part of the identity of the historic town of Dumbarton, should be destroyed.
“Such destruction would have an impact upon tourism as it would dismay and discourage potential visitors to the town, be they from overseas or elsewhere, and impair the reputation, image and value of Dumbarton as a town with an historic heritage worth travelling to see.”
Posted by Rhiannon
25th October 2002ce