Outrage as Chinese granite imported to Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Marischal College. Picture: TSPL
Aberdeen's Marischal College. Picture: TSPL
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It is the rock upon which the Granite City was built.

Now, in a twist on the irony of taking coals to Newcastle, builders are importing 180 tonnes of the rock from China for a controversial new development in the historic heart of Aberdeen.

Many of the city’s houses and iconic buildings such as Marischal College are created out of the hard grey stone, as well as pavements, kerbs and statues.

The £107 million Marischal Square scheme will stand opposite the college – Europe’s second-largest granite building and one of the city’s most visited historical sites.

But news that the developers plan to import stone from China have sparked outrage.

“Importing cheap granite for a building opposite Marischal Square is sacrilege,” said campaigner Bill Skidmore, of the Reject Marischal Square Group.

Alex Johnstone, Conservative MSP for Northeast Scotland, said: “Given the history of the city, to be building with Chinese granite is a cultural catastrophe. So much that is important to Aberdeen is based on a tradition of granite. This represents a complete misjudgment by those behind this development.”

The city’s Rubislaw quarry closed down in 1971 but sites in Kemnay and Corrennie in Aberdeenshire still produce the stone for building developments.

John Forbes, of Bon Accord Granite, now sources stone from Africa, Asia, South America and Europe so he can offer clients a good price.

“What people don’t understand is that we haven’t built a major building out of north-east granite for the last 30 years at least,” he said.

“If I don’t supply Chinese granite then others will.”