Survey of Highland quarry to check for buried war planes

World War II aircraft are believed to have been buried in the quarry. Picture: TSPL
World War II aircraft are believed to have been buried in the quarry. Picture: TSPL
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A radiological study is to be carried out on a former Highland quarry where WWII planes are believed to have been buried.

The Highland Council is carrying out ground investigations and surveys at the former Kingsteps Quarry in Nairn.

The works are being carried out to ensure the site can be used safely by the public as an amenity area in the long term.

Surveys will be undertaken as a precautionary measure due to anecdotal evidence of possible buried WWII military aircraft at the site and to assess any impact from historical fly-tipping in the area.

If present, aircraft parts disposed of may have contained very small amounts of radioactive contamination in the form of luminised paint which was used on dials on wartime planes.

William Gilfillan, Highland Council’s director of community services said: “The surveys are a precautionary measure.

“There have been word-of mouth accounts of planes being deposited in the quarry but no documentation has been found to support this.

“The surveys will also check that any potential contamination from historical activities in the area does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health.

“Residents have requested that more could be done to encourage access in this area and carrying out these surveys will contribute to an understanding of the site that will inform future decision-making.

“The survey results will be analysed - and if required - appropriate actions will be taken to remediate the area for continued public access. If required, the Council will apply to the Scottish Government for Vacant and Derelict Land Funding to improve the site.”

Consultants have been commissioned by the council to undertake a radiological survey of the site.

This will be done using monitoring equipment that is walked over the ground surface. A general evaluation of other possible pollution sources in the quarry will also be undertaken.

The 4.2 hectare site at Kingsteps Quarry is owned by the council and was acquired in 2001, at no cost, from the neighbouring Lochloy Housing developer.

The site was formerly a sand and gravel quarry and then used as an unregulated local dump. There are informal paths on the site used by locals for dog walking and countryside amenity.

Radiological survey staff will be on site for two days next week.

The remains of other war-time activity have been found in and around Nairn in recent years.

Two mortar bombs were discovered at the town’s East Beach in March 2012 and were disposed of by bomb disposal experts.

Nairn’s beaches were used to prepare soldiers and sailors for the Allied landings in Normandy in June 1944.

Military personnel were based at nearby Fort George at the time.

The remains of tanks used in the rehearsals have previously been found further east along the coast from Nairn.

A Valentine tank was lost by the Royal Hussars at Culbin Forest and two others in Burghead Bay.