In early January Paul Everett of the British Geology Survey visited Westray to conduct assessments of several quarry sites. Paul’s visit has given us some early indications of the stone quality, its locations and where it might be possible to quarry it.
The stone samples are currently being transported to the British Geology Survey offices in Edinburgh and Sandberg’s (a stone analysis company) of London for various testing. The results of which will give us a clear indications of its material composition, how it will behave in a crusher, its durability and how it weathers. If it is of sufficient quality then we can expect it to be certified to industry standards.
Concurrently we have been in contact with Orkney Islands Council and Scottish Natural Heritage to gauge their opinion and although no formal planning process has taken place, we are encouraged by their feedback.
During Paul’s visit he was able to completely rule out the old Rapness Quarry. In order for this quarry to be used again, it would have to be blasted which, creates considerable complications and costs as it would have to be done on a larger scale than the Trust anticipates. Blasting would also lower the quality of the stone too, as there is a significant band of shale running through the entire face which, would get mixed up with the stone during the blasting.
Once we have the testing results and some firmer news from OIC, we intend to present this information back to the members and community, as promised at the AGM, to gauge further opinion.