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In a highly gratifying outcome published last Friday, Themis Advocates scored a big win in the protection of Scotland’s built heritage assets. Themis’s John Campbell QC, representing a coalition of local Groups and UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites, recorded victory for the New Lanark World Heritage site against the world’s largest cement maker, Cemex UK, also represented by Senior Counsel, this time from Axiom Advocates. Neither the Council nor SNH played more than a minor part, and it was left to the local people and Third Party Groups to make the running.


The New Lanark World Heritage Site, a precious and priceless location next to the Falls of Clyde, adjoins the town of Lanark and is much loved by the people of Lanark and visitors alike. Founded by David Dale and Robert Owen, the former mills lie quietly by the raging Clyde, powering its way to the sea. The very origin of modern ‘day tripper’ tourism saw Glaswegians in their tens of thousands in the late 1890s and early years of the 20th century escaping the second city of Empire for fresh air and fun and the experience of the marvellous sight of massive tumbling waterfalls charging towards their very own City.


The application for Planning Permission to enlarge the nearby Hyndford Sand and Gravel quarry, and dig out the surrounding landscape both southwards and westwards, would have destroyed a 300 year old intact Parliamentary Wall and then tried to recreate the landscape 30m lower down in a few years – perhaps decades - time. The application was hotly opposed from the outset by a coalition of local interests, led by active local opponents Mark Stephens and Graham U’ren.


Against everyone’s instinct, it was allowed by the Council, then called in by Scottish Ministers for an inquiry at the urging of Save Our Landscapes, who were Themis Advocates’s client and the main local group. After an Inquiry, it was recommended for approval, by two Reporters. They were then overturned by the Minister, who said NO.


A Judicial Review of that decision by Cemex was unopposed by the Government, for reasons never explained. That triggered a second Public Inquiry before a different Reporter, which again recommended a grant of permission. Once again, the Ministers said NO. And there the matter rests.


The World Heritage Site and its setting would seem to be safe for now.