The planning application for a gold and silver mine in Cononish Glen, near Tyndrum was approved on 19th October 2018.
The National Park Authority secured a unique package that will deliver multiple benefits for the area in order to reduce the impact to the landscape and recreational access during the mines operation and to support the long term improvements to Cononish Glen’s natural heritage. This includes the Greater Cononish Glen Management Plan (GCGMP) (valued at £268,000 in total) which will deliver a range of landscape and recreational improvements, habitat management and native tree planting.
The developer also agreed to contribute £425,000 (£25,000 per annum) for visitor and conservation projects in the Strathfillan community area and across the National Park. The Countryside Trust will distribute the funds with 30% to be spent in the Strathfillan area and 70% across the National Park.
A Restoration and Aftercare bond of £537,000 has been secured through the Section 75 legal agreement. The bond is in place to ensure that adequate finance is available in the event of a future default by the applicant in relation to the restoration of the site and aftercare costs. A voluntary contribution from the developer has also been agreed. Over 16 years a total of £490,000 will be donated to the Strathfillan Development Trust although this was not a material planning consideration in determining the application.
Although in the short term there will be an adverse impact in the Cononish Glen, in the long term the glen will be greatly improved, leaving a lasting positive impact through the remediation of the site and The Greater Cononish Glen Management Plan. The mine will also bring a range of social and economic benefits for the local community and wider area through the creation of jobs.
All of the pre-start planning conditions for the mine have been discharged and development has begun with site works commencing on 3 January 2019 and the first blasting operations taking place on 4 January 2019. The development can be divided into three phases, construction, operation and restoration. As part of the construction phase the road junction at Dalrigh onto the A82 has been upgraded, the adit into the underground mine is being widened (both at the entrance and underground) and boundary fencing and signage has been erected. Additional car parking at Dalrigh car park has been created and a new bridge across the Crom Allt river has been erected. Work has commenced on the creation of a new bund and platform area for the erection of the processing building. Once equipment is fully installed in the processing building then the operational phase can commence and mining of ore will take place. Gold production is expected to begin in November 2020.
In accordance with the terms of the section 75 agreement the National Park appointed a Planning Monitoring Officer (PMO) to act on its behalf in monitoring the compliance by the Operators with their obligations under the consent, the MEW Regulations (The Management of Extractive Waste (Scotland) Regulations 2010), Waste Management Plan, the GCGMP and the section 75 legal agreement. Following a formal tender process external specialist consultants Ironside Farrar have been appointed to act as PMO for the first 5 years of the development phase at Cononish until 31 March 2024. Since the commencement of development site visits have been undertaken monthly by the PMO, usually accompanied by a representative of the Park Authority. The PMO produces regular “Planning Audit Reports” for the planning authority which include review of the compliance monitoring reports submitted by the operators, their contractors, subcontractors and representatives and the Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) and Landscape Clerk of Works (LCoW); a summary of site visit(s); a clear audit trail of any issues arising (and what the operator proposes to do to remedy them) and a classification of these issues based on traffic-light reporting.
Some aspects of the restoration works will be ongoing throughout development. To date some trees have been planted near the mine site. Also some works have commenced on the GCGMP. The buildings at Cononish Farm have been painted a more recessive dark colour and track ‘batters’ have been re-profiled and re-vegetated. Water quality monitoring is ongoing to comply with SEPA and SNH’s requirements.
You can view the decision notice, legal agreement and approved plans, on the e-planning portal using the reference 2017/0254/MIN.