RESIDENTS at a small village near the Clacks-Fife border have issued a desperate call to authorities to protect them from an “environmental disaster”.

The community at Bogside has launched a petition, calling on SEPA and Fife Council to exercise their statutory duty of care, claiming that activities at a silica sand quarry and asphalt plant are having an increasingly detrimental impact on the area.

Chief among the raft of complaints is that silica dust, heavy exposure to which can cause lung cancer according to the HSE, regularly emanates from the site at Burrowine Moor Quarry.

A farmer across the road from the quarry, also known as Fife Silica Sands, told the Advertiser of the difficult circumstances he and his family live in, claiming that silica dust often covers their land and homes.

John Keddie of Bogside Farm, which is situated across the A907 from the quarry, fears the community is being left as “collateral damage” to allow the continued extraction of silica sand, which is used in glass-making among a variety of other applications.

In recent weeks, he told of how the family had to leave their home for a whole weekend, such was the intensity of the issue.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has confirmed to the Advertiser that environmental protection officers continue to investigate reports regarding the quarry.

The agency last year found that the site's dust arrestment system “was not operating effectively” and it continues to liaise with operator Patersons Quarries Ltd to ensure it complies with licenses.

The company told the Advertiser it understands the risk and potential impact of its activities and claimed the quarry “meets the high levels of environmental standards set and is fully complaint in this respect”.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: SITE: Two companies operate on the site

A SEPA spokesperson said: “In July 2023, SEPA found the site’s dust arrestment system was not operating effectively and required an investigation report and action plan from the operator to address the issue.

“As part of this action plan, the operator installed dust monitoring equipment in September 2023, which will remain in place for a period of 12 months to provide adequate data to inform further reviews of the site’s dust management regime.”

The spokesperson went on to explain that two reports of silt pollution to a watercourse, along with a noise complaint, were received this year with the agency ensuring that “remedial action was taken by the operator to stop pollution on these occasions”.

They added: “We are currently investigating a dust pollution incident reported by the public to SEPA on April 7, 2024.

“Where there are complaints of dust from the installation being detected beyond the site boundary, SEPA require the operator to investigate to determine the root cause and ensure corrective action is taken. This is ongoing.

“SEPA will continue to liaise with the operator and review whether the actions taken are sufficient to ensure compliance with the license.”

The agency also explained that while providing advice and guidance is the main route to securing compliance, it is “prepared to take further enforcement action should non-compliance persist”.

SEPA also thanked those who contacted the agency with concerns, adding people can report environmental events by calling 0800 80 70 60, while concerns regarding public or animal health should be directed towards relevant local authorities.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: SITE: The quarry's dust arrestment system was found not to be operating effectively previously but

Fife Council is also monitoring the site.

In January 2023, it appointed consultants to provide planning compliance advice regarding the ongoing mineral operations at the quarry.

Following a site visit in June 2023, 24 instances of non-compliance were found relating to the quarry's planning permission.

During a November 2023 follow-up visit, it was found that “the operator has made considerable progress towards compliance” and in some cases the company required input from specialist external consultants with the work marked as ongoing then.

The report still identified four areas of “partial compliance” and five areas of non-compliance, chiefly relating to highway works.

It was found that a dust monitoring scheme was submitted for approval to the council with the operator to implement said scheme.

However, those living near the site say dust still emanates from the quarry with various videos and images submitted to the Advertiser to show that this was the case.

Another compliance visit is scheduled for the site for this autumn.

Alastair Hamilton, service manager for planning at Fife Council, said: “When we're made aware of an issue that may be controlled through planning conditions, we will investigate and if it is appropriate for us to do so, take enforcement action.

“Other agencies who can take their own action to help resolve issues can also be involved in addressing such matters.”

Dunfermline MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville is also urging authorities to take the issue “extremely seriously”.

She told the Advertiser: “I have received a number of concerning reports from constituents regarding dust being blown from silica sand piles at the Burrowine Quarry.

"This is having a significant effect on people's lives and residents at Bogside in particular have told me they are worried about their families' health.

"I contacted SEPA regarding the air pollution and they have now confirmed to me that the site operator's dust suppression system had not been operating effectively.

"As a result, dust monitoring equipment has been installed at the site boundary to monitor potential escape of dust and a full inspection will take place next month.

"I have also urged Fife Council to ensure they are taking this issue extremely seriously.

"The local authority must hold the site operators to account and if it is discovered that any planning conditions are not being met, appropriate enforcement action must follow."

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: DUST: Residents say silica dust often engulfs nearby property

A statement from Patersons Quarries said the company “understand the risks and potential environmental impacts of its activities and strives to operate in a sustainable manner”, including the prevention of pollution and modernisation of business practices to reduce environmental impact.

The statement continued: “The extent of emissions of dust, noise or silt from Burrowine Moor Quarry is continually monitored by multiple stakeholders.

“Scientific monitoring data is analysed and reported on in accordance with the quarry’s planning conditions and site license.

“The quarry meets the high levels of environmental standards set and is fully compliant in this respect.

“Burrowine Moor Quarry is presently undergoing a multi-million-pound investment that will deliver a technically advanced sand processing plant powered directly by a local wind farm.

“This investment will provide, to many industries all across the UK, a domestic source of high-quality silica sand which will ultimately reduce the need for carbon intensive imports from abroad.

“The quarry has a hugely positive impact on the economy of Fife, as well as benefiting the local community through the provision of dozens of local jobs for quarrying staff, hauliers and others.”

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: CONCERNS: A petition has been submitted after years of concerns raised

Farmer John Keddie, 72, raised a range of issues with the Advertiser, while his son-in-law Mark Taylor launched a petition online.

John said: “It is a big story with various threads, the dust, fumes and the destruction of our environment and amenities being our main concern.

“However, in our pursuit of solutions to these issues we have stumbled upon a raft of deficiencies within the systems we imagined were there to protect us.”

He claimed “poor decisions” have impacted the residents in the Bogside valley while the heaps of silica sand can now be seen for miles.

John explained that a part of the ongoing issues is that an asphalt and concrete batching plant was added to the site a few years ago – operated by Hillhouse Quarry Group Ltd.

The farmer raised concerns over fumes emanating from the plant and claimed this led to a range of trees, which used to provide screening from the quarry, disappearing.

However, this was refuted by the company, along with claims that it regularly operates outwith its 7am to 7pm permitted hours.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: PLEA: Residents in Bogside have launched a petition with their concerns

A spokesperson said: “Hillhouse Quarry Group operates a modern plant that is fitted with up-to-date environmental controls.

“We can confirm that all our operations fully comply with planning conditions as well as the requirements of an authorisation from SEPA.

“Some woodland has naturally fallen due to the wind.

“Despite this not being within our control, we will implement a woodland plan to replace these fallen trees.”

SEPA confirmed the asphalt plant was compliant when last inspected.

A spokesperson said: “SEPA last inspected the asphalt plant operated by Hillhouse Quarry Group Ltd on October 17, 2023.

“The asphalt plant was compliant with the licence and actions were given to the operator to ensure continued compliance.

“We are unable to speculate on the cause of the death of the trees.”

A public meeting over the issues is set to be held at Kincardine Community Centre on Monday, May 20, at 7pm. Visit for the petition.