for Sunday Herald, 10 September 2000
The Scottish Executive is facing one of its toughest environmental trials to date when it appears in the high court tomorrow accused of procrastination over the landmark decision whether to dig a massive new superquarry in the Western Isles. But, the Sunday Herald has learned, that may only be the start of its troubles.
The Environment Minister, Sarah Boyack, is being taken to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by Lafarge Redland, the French company that wants to remove the mountain of Roineabhal on south Harris to provide aggregates for roads and railways. The company alleges that the delay caused by Boyack's decision to refer the issue to the government's conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), is a breach of the European convention on human rights.
SNH was asked in July to reassess whether or not the site contained enough rare plants for it to qualify as a Special Area for Conservation, a European designation that would effectively outlaw the quarry development. There was speculation at the time that Boyack was hoping SNH's verdict would enable her to reject the superquarry.