Future of Bruce’s Bannockburn hill to be debated

The new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre at Bannockburn. Monument to King Robert the Bruce as a rainbow appears.   Picture Robert Perry The Scotsman 20th Feb 2014

The new Battle of Bannockburn Visitor Centre at Bannockburn. Monument to King Robert the Bruce as a rainbow appears. Picture Robert Perry The Scotsman 20th Feb 2014

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A hearing into controversial plans to destroy a historic hill that helped Robert the Bruce to victory in the Battle of Bannockburn will be held next month.

The Gillies Hill at Cambusbarron, near Stirling, played a decisive role in the 1314 battle, but much of the ground has already been carried away as part of quarrying work to be used for roadstone.

The quarrying came to an end 20 years ago but now Paterson’s Quarries Ltd., of Coatbridge, want the work to resume.

The local planning authority, Stirling Council, has opposed further quarrying and Scottish Ministers, through the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) are currently considering an appeal made to them by Paterson’s for the development.

The appointed reporter decided a hearing session should be held to help him consider the appeal, and it was announced today that this it will begin on Tuesday November 22 and could last two days.

Much of the quarry has existing planning permission, valid until 2042, but the site being eyed up by Patersons includes an area outwith the existing workings.

The application has attracted 1,077 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.

The developers say the scheme will create six jobs plus work for hauliers, fitters and electricians and allow 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 battle, in which the Scots 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 higher ground - later named The Gillies Hill in their honour, swarmed down to finish the fight.

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

Among the matters to be considered at the hearing include the current planning status of the site and the relevance of a forthcoming review of the mineral permission, and the implications of two operators possibly being involved in mineral extraction simultaneously.

Also under consideration will be the significance and justification for three “potential levels of annual extraction” identified by the council for assessment and traffic impact on the locality.

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