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25 January 2013
Campaign renewed to save Iron Age fort in Scotland

Campaigners are renewing their long-running appeal to stop an ancient Iron Age hill fort from being quarried in Scotland. Dumbarton residents, green activists and archaeologists are aiming to halt the approval of a Review of Minerals Permission (ROMP) which they fear could lead to the destruction of historical Sheep Hill (West Dunbartonshire). The campaigners, who have a petition signed by 1,500 people, are aiming to raise the profile of their Save Sheep Hill Campaign and are canvassing residents for their support.
     Quarriers William Thompson and Son, which bought the site before the discovery of the fort, was granted planning permission to quarry the site back in 1949 but has since submitted the ROMP application, in a bid to bring the planning conditions up to date. An approval would also offer the company the possibility of seeking authorisation to expand their operations into the historic site.
     The site has been described as being of great archaeological importance. There were at one time numerous cup and ring-marked stones around the land which were removed to safety several years ago, but there is hope that if Sheep Hill was preserved, these rock carvings could eventually be restored to their original positions and this piece of prehistoric heritage preserved for future generations to visit.
     West Dunbartonshire Council considered the ROMP at a planning meeting last month but deferred the decision until March 5 pending further consideration. In a council report, officers advise that the Scottish Government should be approached to intervene "due to the huge environmental loss that would result and the compensation that might be due".
William Thompson and Son would be eligible for a "very substantial compensation", according to the papers, if permission to quarry the area was removed or if conditions affecting the 'viability' of the quarry were attached.

Edited from Lennox Herald (25 January 2013)

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