I wrote to the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser a few weeks ago regarding the tragic death of local boy Martyn McPhail in Springbank Quarry. My letter was not published, but one was with exactly the opposite view of the point I was trying to make. The writer called for all disused local quarries to be fenced off or filled in for safety. I don’t agree with that view. These quarries have been reclaimed by nature to a great extent, and are now habitats in their own right. To destroy them would be terrible, simply because they are are man made. Hillend Reservoir is man made also, but it provides recreation for bird watchers, sailors, anglers, cyclists and walkers. No one would call for it to be fenced off or filled in, so why suggest similar for disused quarries? This is the letter I wrote to the Advertiser:
After the tragic death of Martyn McPhail in Springbank Quarry I knew it would only be a matter of time before some councillor called for local quarries to be filled in or fenced off, and on cue I see that Sophia Coyle has done this very thing. In the Airdrie area there are numerous quarries, some water filled, some not. However almost all of them suffer terribly from fly tipping. In one, near Salsburgh, I counted around thirty vehicles under the water, yet despite this it is heaving with fish and aquatic life, and on a saturday afternoon can be packed with anglers. Parts of Springbank Quarry are filled with industrial waste dumped many years ago, including building materials and tyres, and nothing has been done to remedy this. I used to fish in Springbank Quarry many years ago, and have been pleased to see how nature has reclaimed it, and it is now a great habitat for plants, fish, birds and animals. Fences have never, and will never, keep people out of these quarries, so to call for the council to throw money at fencing to me makes no sense. The quarries surrounding Airdrie have great potential, for fishing, rock climbing and recreation, and you only have to look to Auchinstarry Quarry at Kilsyth to see an example of how these could be community assets rather than eyesores. It would be far better to invest in these areas, clear out the waste, reduce the water levels to a safer level, then landscape the areas and provide car parking, so that these areas can be used responsibly. I’m sure there are also plenty of angling clubs who would love to take over and develop these quarries into safe places where people can relax, at the same time looking after the area, deterring the return of the ‘dumb dumpers’ who have spent the last forty years filling these places with refuse. Wouldn’t this be a far better project than trying the same old failed policy of fencing and keep out signs which has never worked?