Aberdeen quarry heritage centre plans under threat

Quarry VisualPlans for a multi-million attraction to celebrate Aberdeen’s connection with granite could be turned down over the removal of trees.

Planning permission to create a heritage centre at Rubislaw Quarry could be rejected if 12 trees are axed.

The majority of stone used for buildings in the city was extracted from the quarry but a planning official said they were likely to recommend the application be refused because dozens of trees would have to be removed.

Site owners were told that permission would be refused under delegated powers, which means councillors may not even get a say on the decision.

In total, 85 trees need to be removed for work on the £6 million scheme to begin.

Most of the trees are dying but 12 have been rated as being in a fair condition.

Those behind the Halliday Fraser Munro designed proposals have been asked to consider a city centre site for the attraction because there has been no detailed justification for why it must be located at the quarry.

An e-mail from city planner Garfield Prentice revealed that the loss of trees at the southern edge of the quarry to allow for the development would contravene policies on landscape and green spaces.

In his email, Mr Prentice said: “It is considered that the potential positive aspects of a proposed heritage centre do not outweigh the negative impacts on the site, which is designated of being of wildlife and ecological value. It is acknowledged that there appears to be no European protected species on the site. However, the proposal would be likely to have a significant adverse impact on the ecology and habitat of the quarry.”

Mr Prentice also said there has been “no detailed justification or analysis” on why the heritage centre should be located at Rubislaw Quarry. He added: “Maybe such a facility would be more appropriately provided in a more central or city centre location which would be more accessible to visitors and local residents.”

However, site owners Hugh Black and Sandy Whyte have argued the ecology and habitat would be improved by bringing the neglected site back to use and are urging politicians to back their vision.

Mr Black insisted that the ecology and habitat would be improved by the heritage centre development, which will include a water management system to lower the water level, regenerating tree and shrub growth.

He said: “Rubislaw Quarry was officially closed in 1971 and since then the quarry has slowly filled with water which has destroyed hundreds of trees and having a negative effect on the ecology, habitat and wildlife including forcing Peregrine Falcons from the site.

“As part of the heritage development, the water level will be lowered and trees that are in poor condition, which have seeded naturally in the constantly eroding spoil heap from the working quarry, will be removed.

“The 1937 shelf will be exposed when reducing the water level, regenerating tree and shrub growth and improving the local habitat, so that the Peregrine Falcons may return as well as other wildlife.”

Rubislaw Quarry, one of Europe’s largest man-made holes, closed in 1971.

It is often credited with giving Aberdeen its Granite City name.

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