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Quarry plan for hill linked to historic battle thrown out

Gillies Hill at Cambusbarron near Stirling played decisive role in Battle of Bannockburn.

Gillies Hill: Patersons wanted to extend quarrying operation beyond existing workings.
Gillies Hill: Patersons wanted to extend quarrying operation beyond existing workings. Wikipedia

A controversial plan to quarry parts of a hill that featured at the Battle of Bannockburn has been thrown out. 

Much of Gillies Hill at Cambusbarron, near Stirling - which played a decisive role in the 1314 battle - had already been carried away for roadstone.

Quarrying ceased 20 years ago but Patersons Quarries Ltd, of Coatbridge, wanted to restart its operations there.

Planning permission valid until 2042 already applied but Patersons wanted to include an area outside existing workings.

Its application attracted 1077 objections, including from Torbrex, Kings Park and Cambusbarron community councils, the Stirling Civic Trust, Stirling High School Parent Council and other local and national organisations.

After Patersons appealed to the Scottish Government over the delay in reaching a decision, the application was called in and referred to a government reporter.

Reporter Richard Dent chaired a two-day public inquiry into the plans in Cambusbarron in November.

On Friday, Mr Dent issued his determination.

He said he had taken into account the "economic benefits" offered by the proposal but believed these to be outweighed by its adverse impacts.

He ruled the Patersons Quarries proposal was contrary to planning policy and there was "serious doubt" whether local roads could accommodate the increase in heavy traffic the quarrying would generate.

He concluded: "I dismiss the appeal and refuse planning permission."

Mr Dent said the historic nature of the site had not swayed his final decision.

He stated: "In respect of the Battle of Bannockburn there is considerable doubt about the role of Gillies Hill. However, even if the hill played a more central role... I do not consider that the development would have a significant impact on the understanding and interpretation of the battle."

The decision was greeted with delight by protesters.

One local resident said: "It's superb news, whatever way you look at it."

Protesters including a Save The Gillies Hill group and others fought a long campaign against the proposals. 

A "Save Gillies Hill" march in Cambusbarron last summer, on Sunday June 25, the closest Sunday to the 702nd anniversary of the famous battle, attracted a strong turnout.

And a petition against the plans gained more than 1250 signatures in under a week.

Save Gillies Hill group secretary Marion MacAllister said: "Gillies Hill is important not only for historic and recreational reasons but also for the fact that this land is important to the people of Stirling and beyond.

"It is loved for the quiet, the green, the peace, the age of the woods, for the fact that it is so close and that families have walked there for generations."

The developers had said that the scheme would have created six jobs plus work for hauliers, fitters and electricians and facilitated the exploitation of good quality aggregate for the construction industry.

The Descent of the Gillies on to the field of Bannockburn is seen as a turning point in the 1314 battle, in which Robert the Bruce defeated the English King Edward II.

According to legend, as the tide of battle swung in the Bruce's favour, the "Sma' Folk", or "gillies" - servants, cart drivers and camp followers who had been concealed behind the hill - swarmed down to finish the fight.

The English, thinking the rabble to be another regiment of Scots infantry, were further demoralised and fled in panic.

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