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 The Harris Superquarry Public Inquiry

Introduction to the Isle of Harris Proposed Superquarry

Public Inquiry Theological Testimony


Alastair McIntosh


First published in Journal of Law and Religion, Hamline University School of Law, St Paul, Mn., (www.hamline.edu/law/jlr ) XI:2, 1994-95, pp. 757-788 and appendix, pp. 789-791. An accompanying article by Professor Alesia Maltz, Commentary on the Harris Superquarry, was carried in the same issue and reflects upon the theological arguments made in the Harris public enquiry vis-a-vis the American constitutional position on religion, pp. 793-833.


Full Lafarge Redland superquarry briefing and updates


Photograph of Mt. Roineabhal


Go down to Alastair McIntosh's inquiry testimony


Go down to Rev Prof Donald Macleod's inquiry testimony


Go down to Warrior Chief Sulian Stone Eagle Herney's inquiry testimony





Lewis and Harris - Cultural Background


The Isle of Harris, famous for its traditionally woven Harris Tweed fabric, is part of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides archipelago off the North-West coast of Scotland. Harris and the Isle of Lewis are one island, the largest in the Hebrides, with a 1991 Census population of 22,381. Many inhabitants are indigenous Gaelic speakers. Principal employment sectors are fishing, tourism, weaving, crofting (small scale agriculture), and the public service sector. Unemployment is significant, standing at around 12%.


Following the Reformation, missionary efforts assured practically 100% conversion of the inhabitants from an almost completely lapsed Catholicism to Protestantism[1]. Pre-reformation Highland Catholicism had incorporated many elements of nature spirituality subsequently dismissed as “pagan” by Presbyterianism[2]. Today Lewis and Harris retain the highest rate of church attendance in Britain. There are four main church groupings: the 1) Associated Presbyterian Churches which broke away from the 2) Free Presbyterian Church, which was a break-away group from the 3) Free Church of Scotland, which broke from the established 4) Church of Scotland in the 1843 Disruption.


In all churches, Island theology draws heavily on Calvinist interpretations of the Fall, original sin, the centrality of Christ in the work of salvation, Sabbath observance and maintaining ethical standards in the community appropriate to it being largely a community of believers. These issues transcend schisms between the churches.


The island is the only part of Britain where Sabbath observance extends to there being no shops open and no public transport on Sundays. This enjoys broad support from both religious and secular segments of the population. Many of the latter accept it as being important in defending a less-pressured way of life.


The Coastal Superquarry Concept on Harris


In 1991 a Scottish businessman, Mr Ian Wilson of Dunblane, announced that he had procured a stake in mineral rights at some half-dozen key deep-water mountainous locations in Scotland. He proposed to develop the concept of the “catalytic coastal superquarry[3].”


A superquarry is a quarry capable of extracting 3 - 20 million metric tonnes per annum, compared with a conventional large quarry size of some 200,000 tonnes. These superquarries would be coastal, so that rock could be shipped from remote sites in the Scottish Highlands to provide motorway and building aggregate in those parts of England and the rest of Europe where, what Wilson called “environmental shock” (ibid.), has inhibited further local quarrying developments. They would be “catalytic,” in that they would catalyse other mineral development from satellite quarries (e.g. marginally commercial garnet on Harris) and catalyse other forms of local business which, Mr Wilson claimed, would lead to “sustainable development” in “crofting enterprise zones.” Sustainability would be assured on Harris because, whilst the initial planning application for the quarry would be for only 60 years, the island’s southern mountain range has sufficient rock to carry on for hundreds of years if wished[4]. The mountain is substantially made up of anorthosite, a hard, dense calcium aluminium silicate feldspar ideal for the construction industry. Some ten million tonnes a year would be extracted and shipped possibly as far away as America.[5]


After teaming up with the local landlord and one of Britain’s biggest construction companies, Redland Aggregates Plc (market capitalisation circa $7 billion), a planning application was lodged in 1991. Initially, the application received an estimated 90% informal backing from the local community. People accepted the company’s arguments about creation of jobs. Projected job numbers ranged from about forty to four hundred, depending on who was speaking. Having no yardstick against which to appreciate the magnitude of the project, most lacked awareness of the social, economic and ecological down-sides.


Theological Antecedents, Influences and Objectives


Those of us who became opposed to the quarry were generally people like myself who had grown up on the islands and then travelled widely, or incomers seeking an alternative way of life to the industrial mainstream. These might be thought of respectively as “outside insiders” and “inside outsiders” to the community. “Inside insiders” - i.e. indigenous resident community members -  were mostly silent in the early stages of opposition campaigning. For them to have been otherwise would have been to risk responsibility for splitting a community central to their identity and wellbeing. Better to allow the thin ice to be stepped on by those who had more external buoyancy. In this respect and in small communities around the world, inside outsiders and outside insiders can be seen to play an important advocacy role in articulating divergent positions of the community and thereby avoiding conflict at the core. It is a community’s defence, learned by the lessons of history, against the divide and rule vicissitudes of change. It is a stalking-horse role[6] where those engaging in advocacy must recognise and accept their ultimate dispensability if the outcome goes messily against them. Such a shift from stalking-horse even to scapegoat can be their ironic contribution to the community.


With little formal co-ordination but much informal sharing, those of us objecting to the quarry worked through due procedures at the local authority planning stages, and through the national and local media to raise awareness of the cultural, ecological and economic adverse consequences that the quarry might have.


The campaign was not all negative. We also stimulated proposals that lead to an alternative “strategic development plan” to create non-destructive jobs in Harris[7]. This has now been taken up by pro- and anti-quarry factions alike, resulting in the “Harris Integrated Development Plan.” It has already created ten jobs.


Initially my own role in opposing the superquarry was to contribute to the conventional secular arguments as befits a human ecologist. As opposition grew and mainstream organisations like Friends of the Earth and Scottish Natural Heritage took up well-researched anti-quarry stances, I shifted my stance towards the theological, which had always been a personal motivation from Quaker, liberation theology and ecofeminist perspectives.


The Lord’s Day Observance Society and local churches had, from the outset, expressed concern about the possibility that the superquarry would bring Sabbath working. I felt moved to bring a wider theological perspective towards which, it was clear from discussions with local clergy, the churches might be marginally sympathetic, but unable themselves to address due to the range of pro- and anti-quarry perspectives in their own congregations. Two of the three clergy I consulted in South Harris also doubted the theological priority of the issue relative to the deeper central concern of  “man’s sinfulness” and salvation through Christ. However, one of them considered the quarry would end religious life as he knows it in Harris. None challenged the scriptural exegesis.


At a pre-Inquiry meeting in the Scottish Office in the summer of 1994, I asked whether theological considerations related to what the World Council of Churches called the “integrity of creation” might be entertained. I argued that as Sunday work had been accepted as a legitimate area for the inquiry under the category of cultural considerations, so should other theological concerns. The Inquiry Reporter, Miss Gillian Pain, agreed to this. Had there been any question as to the relevance of such evidence in a Government inquiry, it would have been my intent to point to the significant place of religion in Scottish civic life: the very outer doors of the Scottish Office under whose auspices we were sitting, for example, having a biblical mural with the words of Jesus cast into them (Mat. 4:19).


I subsequently set about preparing the “precognition” (inquiry body of evidence) published here. A few months earlier I sounded this theme out in simplified form via a letter in the Stornoway Gazette[8], the main local newspaper. It drew no published reaction whatsoever, though I was given private verbal encouragement. I would not have expected letters of praise to appear in the newspaper, but was reassured that there was no condemnation from any church leaders. Had there been any of weight, the theological case could probably not have proceeded because it would have been discounted from the outset by many local people.


I knew that a lot of people would privately read the scriptural references cited. I trusted that this would work with its own power and open up new directions of thought, contemplative prayer and private discourse. The Bible can be read as a profoundly ecological text. However, most Scots have not reflected much on its contemporary significance in such matters. To do so is salutary.


In parallel to all this, other threads were starting to weave into the tapestry that would finally emerge. During the summer of 1994 I travelled in North America with support from the Konrad Zweig Trust. I was exploring with people like the well known American therapist, Jane Middleton-Moz, the relevance of what might be called a “transatlantic cultural psychotherapy.” By this I mean the need to address the disempowered cultures left behind from the Highland Clearances in Scotland, the broken Native American cultures resulting from settlement of  our people on their land, and the breaking, globally dominant culture to which we nearly all now partly belong.


I was working with the idea that just as a psychologically sick person can benefit from coming to know painful truths in the process of psychotherapy, so perhaps cultures sickened through carrying the effects of intergenerational trauma can heal through social processes parallel to psychotherapy. In my work with Scottish indigenous land rights on the Isle of Eigg[9] I had used the principle of re-membering and re-visioning in order to re-claim ... all in a spirit cognisant that “only forgiveness breaks the law of Karma”[10]. So too with the superquarry it seemed we had to re-member and re-vision right relationship with the Creation in order to maintain a claim on the children’s future. Such focus on the quarry might accrue wider benefits too as the community were forced to think about their place in history and geography. Just possibly, the superquarry proposal could be a shot to the cultural immune system. As such, it could draw us to a greater wholeness of awareness; an awareness, as Edwin Muir put it, that “still from Eden springs the root as clean as on the starting day.[11]


The theological sources feeding into this were diverse but convergent. They became powerfully important to me as the strategy of superquarry opposition unfolded. They were mostly contextual, liberation-orientated, prophetic process theologies; mainly though not exclusively Christian. I was surprised, often, working at my computer to be moved to tears by their power to grip the soul whilst pausing to contemplate, or play some ancient tune on my penny whistle. I have been asked to describe some of these sources and their impact as much as I feel comfortable so to do.


A central metaphor was the triple process of “naming, unmasking and engaging the powers” described by American theologian, Walter Wink. He sees spirituality as being the interiority of outward forms such as nations, institutions, companies, people, etc.. Spirituality shapes the dynamics of power in the world. The “powers” are inevitably “fallen,” but capable of redemption. To work with redemptive processes we must first “name” the powers - find handles to grip onto. Then we can “unmask” them - reveal their workings and motives. Only then can they be “engaged,” - not destroyed, but called to a higher vocation. In the third text of his award-winning trilogy, Wink devotes substantial analysis to the domination system[12]. It seemed to me that the superquarry company was an embodiment of this system - caught up in layers of illusory maya, unable to see that the name being honoured by faceless shareholders sheltering behind limited liability, limited responsibility status, was Mammon: or Moloch ... that Old Testament god to which the children’s wellbeing and lives were sacrificed to buy present prosperity. Unmasked, the quarry was about the psychospiritual dynamics of profit and a blind enslaving fetish that jobs are all there is to wellbeing. Even Ian Wilson, “father of the superquarry concept,” acknowledged that, “Quarries make bad neighbours.... The industry itself, the quarrying industry in the UK, if it could get off with raping the Highlands would do so. I mean they are business people....[13]


Thus named and unmasked, the challenge becomes less heady, more pragmatic. “Engagement” of the powers becomes a matter of repudiating the abdication of governance in resource use; of calling on government to encourage aggregate recycling, resource substitution and to the national development of policies consistent with minimal natural capital usage. One appendix to my theological submission was therefore a paper on ecological economics arguing against the use of discounted cash flow predicated “contingent valuation methodologies.” These provide a veneer behind which nature’s destruction is justified.


Other powerful influences were Gutierrez’s theology of liberation. Gutierrez sees liberation as simply being “to give life.”[14] (cf. John 10:10). It is a triple process:


First, there is liberation from social situations of oppression and marginalization  that force many ... to live in conditions contrary to God’s will for their life. But ... also needed is a personal transformation by which we live with profound inner freedom in the face of every kind of servitude.... Finally, there is liberation from sin, which attacks the deepest root of all servitude; for sin is the breaking of friendship with God and with other human beings....[15]


Gutierrez recognises the centrality of history, politics and psychoanalytical insight[16] to soteriology; his implication being that if we are not living the Kingdom here and now - if we are merely waiting for “pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die” - we are actually dying to the immanence of heaven and life eternal (cf. Luke 17:21).


The Brazilian educator, Paulo Freire has developed practical tools for working out such a liberation theology of “full humanisation” through community education. Freire calls for “conscientisation” - the process of helping people to become aware of how they are oppressed and what they can do to become more free. Freireian pedagogy is developing a well-tried reputation in Scotland, especially through adult education workers[17]. It seemed to me that what he developed for a Brazil where fully 1% of the population own only 45% of the land could equally be of value to problems of community disempowerment in a Scotland where, according to the Scottish Landowners’ Federation’s own figures, just 0.08% of the population own 80% of private land.


Ivan Illich with his insights into the nature of work and vernacular livelihood[18], cross-cultural Hindu-Christian scholar and Edinburgh University Gifford lecturer, Raimon Panikkar, with his understand of the centrality of right relationship to the rhythm of Being - of the Creation[19] - these were other important influences. They were complemented by ecofeminist perspectives, Christian and otherwise. I drew strength from the poetry of Adrienne Rich. Her understanding of national despair in America and the importance of bringing poetics into politics speaks equally to our need on this side of the Atlantic[20]. And Alice Walker[21] and Audre Lorde[22] ... their writings about the passions of love, the dancing of life through oppression and cherishing the wounded Earth ... these literally cradle the wearied campaigner in great black Earth-mothering arms. I thank them all. They shaped the deep ontological dynamics, drawing me deeper into a relationship with the threatened mountain,. Roineabhal[23], and the human and other ecologies it supports. This surprised, delighted and sometimes shocked me. Only through poetic prose have I been able to hint at it[24].


Warrior Chief Stone Eagle Herney


Part of my North American study tour took me to visit Leon Dubinski and his co-campaigners on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. They work closely with the Mi’Kmaq first nation in trying to prevent the superquarrying of Kluscap (Gluscap, Glooscap) or Kelly’s Mountain. The mountain is sacred to the Mi’Kmaq people. They believe that their prophet, Kluscap, will return there. Kelly Rock are a quarry company who consider aggregate production to be a better use of Kluscap. To stop this the Grand Chief of the Mi’Kmaq Grand Council and the traditional government appointed Sulian Stone Eagle Herney to lead a campaign of opposition. As well as being War Chief of the Mi’Kmaq Warrior Society, Stone Eagle is also a sacred peace pipe carrier. The latter rested more comfortably with my Quaker pacifism. In addition, he is director of the First Nations Environmental Network - the only First Nations national environmental organisation in Canada.


I was unable to meet with Stone Eagle whilst in Canada, but with his wife’s permission swam from a boat and meditated in the sacred cave on the mountain. This was in August 1994, and the theological testimony in the public inquiry was not to be until November. But the ideas crystallised rapidly and often more reluctantly on my behalf than this account might suggest. I could see both the power and, almost, the absurdity of the whole thing. A hem of embarrassment skirted passion built on conviction fuelled by righteous indignation. However, with the help of  North American and Scottish friends, four objectives for the theological witness were taking shape in my mind. They were:


·      to help stop further quarrying on Harris and wherever else such extraction is undertaken in a way inconsistent with social and ecological justice; inconsistent with reverence towards nature and one-another;


·      to explore the use of liberation theology in Scotland, particularly as applied to our deprivation from control over the land and the socio-ecological and psychospiritual consequences thereof;


·      to do so in a manner that might spiritually inform understandings of “sustainable development” consistent with Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit. This recognises sustainable development as being that which addresses current needs without compromising those of future generations. Most states, including Britain, signed up to it at the Earth Summit in Rio, 1992;


·      to encourage reflection in Scotland upon the desirability of  reincorporating a theology of immanence alongside and complementary to the prevailing theology of transcendence, and so doing within a theological framework acceptable to mainstream Presbyterians;


·      to develop a cathartic historical understanding of oppression, intergenerational poverty, community disempowerment and the land question between native peoples on both sides of the Atlantic, through common grieving, sharing, forgiveness and forward vision involving spiritual insights from diverse perspectives. This is what I conceptualised as cultural psychotherapy.


I discussed these ideas once back in Scotland by telephone with Stone Eagle. I believed he would introduce an important international dimension and attract publicity to the issue accordingly. Given the mandate he holds from his people, there was probably no other person in the world with comparable superquarry campaigning experience. He agreed to come. Eagle totemism (there are breeding eagles on both Mt. Roineabhal  and Mt. Kluscap) played an important role in his agreeing to give time and in establishing relationship between us. It was also a gift for the press, as evidenced by such headlines as “Stone Eagle to fly in for battle to stop superquarry.[25]


Rev. Prof. Donald Macleod


Recognising my own lack of theological weight in Highland circles, I felt we also needed a prominent theologian appropriate to Hebridean religious culture. I re-read an address given by the chair of systematic theology at the Free Church College, Professor Donald Macleod, at the annual Scottish Crofters’ Conference in Stornoway, 1993[26]. It contained  veiled criticism of the quarry concept. I called, and asked for his help. Yes, he was indeed strongly opposed to the quarry. He would be prepared to address the Inquiry as a supporting witness. He would, of course, speak as a committed Calvinist. 


Donald Macleod is considered to be one of Scotland’s greatest and most controversial contemporary theologians. Credited with coining the phrase that “Adam was a crofter and only the Fall gave us landlords,” he is a Presbyterian liberation theologian.


The relevance to ecotheology of John Calvin’s thought (as distinct from some articulations of Calvinism) is potentially profound. Calvin was a man fascinated by what he called the “beautiful theatre” of the created world, in which we might do well “to take pious delight” in meditating upon nature’s phenomena as God’s creation.[27]


Professor Macleod is the focus of a bitter feud which has been running for a number of years within the Free Church between conservative and radical fundamentalists. Reviewing this after the public inquiry was over, The Scotsman (Scotland’s newspaper of record) remarked:


A liberal in the Free Church of Scotland is someone who believes that women can be admitted to church not wearing a hat.... Prof Macleod’s fundamental beliefs ... would mark him out as a dangerous fundamentalist in almost every other branch of the Christian church. (An) expert said Prof Macleod’s evidence at the Lingerabay superquarry inquiry summed up the professor’s problems (with conservatives in his church). The professor shared a platform at the inquiry with Stone Eagle, a Red Indian whose protest against the quarry was based on Red Indian spirituality, and a Quaker, Alastair McIntosh. Despite his willingness to share a platform on a Highland issue with a pagan and what many in the area would regard as a heretic, however, his evidence to the inquiry was impeccably Calvinist.[28]


Resonances with Calvin were particularly apparent in parts of the verbal introduction to his written text at the Inquiry hearing. For instance:


The people of Harris live conscious of the glory of God. What I'm asking is to reflect whether this project is to the glory of God. Do we have God's mandate to inflict on Creation a scar of this magnitude that might detract from Creation's ability to reflect the Glory of God? I know that Roineabhal is not in itself an area of what you might deem to be "beautiful." It is nevertheless an area of magnificence and grandeur and, by being such, bears eloquent testimony in my judgement to the majesty and grandeur of God's Earth. In my view no hole in the ground could bear that testimony as Roineabhal presently does.[29]


So it was that an uneasy alliance, what the press dubbed “The Quaker, the Calvinist and the Mi’Kmaq Warrior,” ended up sharing a common platform on 9th November 1994 at the Inquiry in Harris.


Was it Worth it?


The editor of this journal has allocated the role of evaluation to Dr Alesia Maltz. In addition, I should like to give some personal reflections.


The Inquiry report is expected probably in the second half of 1996. It is unclear whether Miss Pain will consider the theology to have been very relevant. What is clear is that the theology, and all the other inquiry evidence constituting the vast bulk of the proceedings, had considerable public impact as the subsequent 68% anti-quarry referendum result was to show.[30]


We will never be able to tell how much this was due to the theology, but it can be quantified that some forty pieces, almost all positive, appeared in the UK and Canadian quality and local press alone. It was covered on the BBC World Service, regional radio stations in both Canada and Scotland, even the BBC Radio One national pop music station, and Canadian CBC TV. There was a special reception for Stone Eagle on behalf of the Lord  Provost (Mayor) at the City Chambers of Glasgow. As he and his invaluable co-worker and cultural interpreter, Ishbel Butler Munro, departed Glasgow airport some half dozen members of the public spontaneously came up to thank him “for what you are doing for Scotland.”


A senior member of the community on Harris presented him with the summit rock of Roineabhal to take it symbolically into safe asylum. Stone Eagle was upset by this saying, “What have a people come to that they should decapitate their own mountain”. The “elder” replied: “It’s better than having a superquarry,” And so Stone Eagle formally accepted the summit, a six-inch pyramid of stone wrapped in Harris Tweed. He did so, he declared, under the terms of the same 1752 Treaty by which the people of the Hebrides had been looked after when dumped in Nova Scotia during the Highland Clearances.


Professor Macleod was extensively interviewed by the Gaelic broadcast media, and local bards later wrote Gaelic poems praising the beauty and providential qualities of Roineabhal[31].


Both Professor Macleod and Stone Eagle have subsequently suffered what they consider to be character assassination attempts. For Professor Macleod this had minimal linkage with the superquarry issue[32]. Stone Eagle suffered what we consider to be a hatchet job at the hands of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation TV crew. It was suggested to me by insiders in the BBC that they set him up to make an example of First Nation activists[33].  In Edinburgh, my colleagues and I have suffered a failed but enervating attempt by our University to close down the Centre for Human Ecology in May 1995[34]: however, media suggestions that this was due to our various “campaigning” activities oversimplify the situation as campaigning aspects of our work, being consistent with responsible academic freedom, enjoyed strong support from some quarters within the University.[35] Scottish Natural Heritage, the government’s own environmental advisory agency who finally forced the Inquiry, have suffered a 10% cut in its $64 million budget. The press suggested that: 


... it has had its wings clipped for being too good at its job ... (having) aroused the ire of both ministers and the development lobby ... (through such involvements as) intervention in one of the biggest environmental issues in Scotland in the 1990’s, the ... superquarry on Harris[36].


I am told by an expert witness and senior University colleague that resonances of our arguments were successfully used in another quarry Inquiry at West Linton in lowland Scotland’s  Pentland Hills. He stated, “Not only were these arguments the most persuasive, but prior to Lingerabay they would probably not even have been entertained by an Inquiry reporter.” At a recent debate in the Master of Science class I teach in human ecology[37], Ian Wilson, with whom I have a cordial face-to-face relationship, volunteered that the arguments outlined above have probably thwarted his superquarry hopes on Harris. However, prudence dictates our being less optimistic than he is pessimistic.


I have been acutely aware of personal tensions in undertaking this work. They varied from feeling on a lonely, costly[38] and uncomfortable path; a path which at first looked as though it might serve only as a pathetic and self-embarrassing act of witness; to elation and a sense of privilege, with attendant dangers of spiritual pride, of ego-inflation, especially as the campaign successfully generated mass media attention.


As so often in world affairs, one must depend upon the region’s other local paper, the West Highland Free Press, to put everything in perspective. It ran nearly a full front page declaring,  “Media out in force for “transatlantic cultural psychotherapy session[39]. Penned by Jason Allardyce, imitatable only by Compton Mackenzie who wrote “Whisky Galore,” it provides that bit of a laugh and keeping in place that is maybe needed when doing this sort of work. Have this laugh on me.


... There was so much scope for good copy. Here was the streetwise Indian in ceremonial head-dress who communicated not with smoke-signals but through electronic mail on the information superhighway and who had been involved in an armed stand-off (Oka) in 1990 over proposals to site a golf course on land claimed by the Mi’Kmaq (sic) people ... Professor Macleod (asking), ‘Do you have God’s mandate to inflict on the Creation a scar of this magnitude which detracts from the Creation’s ability to reflect the glory of God’ ... As for Mr McIntosh? He came, he saw, he bamboozled. His precognition was prefaced by a poem and closed with a chapter on ‘The fallacy of the presumption of symmetrical depreciation in the substitutionality of natural and human-made capital’ which left more than a few people scratching their heads.... Stornoway never saw the like and Harris probably never will again.


The text that follows is the testimony made to the public inquiry.




Public Inquiry on the Proposed Harris Superquarry


Witness on Theological Considerations Concerning

Superquarrying and the Integrity of Creation




       Alastair McIntosh - Principal Witness


            Reverend Professor Donald Macleod - Supporting Witness

              (Professor of Systematic Theology, Free Church College)


                     Sulian Stone Eagle Herney - Supporting Witness

                 (Mi'Kmaq First Nation People, Nova Scotia, Canada)



This inquiry precognition (evidence) is submitted to The Scottish Office Inquiry Reporters Unit, 9th September 1994, in accordance with letter Ref. P/PP/75/W/4 of 19 July 1994: Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 - Application by Redland Aggregates Limited to Develop a Coastal Quarry at Lingerabay, South Harris.



Lewisian Gneiss Outcrops


A landscape of lumps of stone.

Yes, I know there's grass

and a few scrubby trees,

but the rock is everywhere,

poking its bones out at all angles,

and man squats uncomfortably between.


It's called 'close to Nature'

or 'the bare necessities'

this continually being nudged to awareness

of where we come in the end.


Yet out of this place have grown

the tongue's impassioned flowering,

grace-notes of elation.


-         John Killick



Introduction to the Case and its Witnesses


The superquarry proposal for Lingerabay near Rodel on the Isle of Harris in the Hebrides aims to address European and possibly American market demand for aggregate, mainly for road building and coastal defences.  The market currently operates largely in the absence of environmental planning for such resource demand. The proposed superquarry will extract some ten million tons of rock per year from Roineabhal - the highest mountain in the National Scenic Area of South Harris. The quarry would be an open cast operation spread over sixty years, leaving the mountain cratered in perpetuity with one of the biggest holes in the world. Whereas the quarry's proponents have attempted to assess the economic benefits, they have undertaken no quantification of the current and intergenerational economic costs and externalities. Neoclassical resource economics, with its presumption of the validity of discounting future cost/benefits, fails to deal with issues of intergenerational equity (see Appendix 6). Theology can and does address such issues.


Accordingly, the focus of my submission to this public inquiry is to be the sacredness of Creation and the attitude of reverence towards nature which this calls for throughout the fulness of time.


It is common knowledge that questions of theology are central to the concerns of many people in the Western Isles. For a majority, the most credible theology is that of the Old and New Testaments, perhaps as interpreted through the Presbyterian Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647. Out of respect for this, I shall place my primary though not my only argument within these terms. The witnesses are as follows:


Alastair McIntosh


My background relevant to this work is that I grew up and was educated on the Isle of Lewis in a Church of Scotland family. I subsequently joined the Edinburgh Central Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends - the Quakers. Around 1973 as a young student of geology, I drafted a letter to the Highlands and Islands Development suggesting that a quarry at Lingerabay would provide employment. I have since changed my mind, having seen on islands elsewhere in the world the effects of such massive developments on the environment and small communities, and having considered the consequences in terms of intergenerational justice of taking away a people's place. As a recent letter to The Scotsman put it, "first they cleared the people; now the want to clear even the rocks." Through letters and articles in the press, public debate, and close contact with indigenous and incoming residents of Harris, I have been involved with the current superquarry debate from the early stages. Initially this involved arguing on cultural, environmental and economic grounds. Now, as these areas are being competently covered by reputable environmental agencies, I have shifted my emphasis to an area not otherwise being covered - that of the integrity of creation.


At the University of Edinburgh I direct the Master of Science degree programme in Human Ecology, which studies the inter-relationships between humankind and the environment. I am a trustee of the Isle of Eigg Trust, both as a founder and as recently re-elected by resident islanders to help them bring about community development and control over the land resource. My work with the superquarry debate should not be taken as being associated with these organisations, though it is germane to both human ecology and community land tenure.


Reverend Professor Donald Macleod


Donald Macleod is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Free Church College in Edinburgh. Through such outlets as his columns in the press, he has become widely respected in the Highlands for his social theological exposition, which impresses Christians and non-Christians alike. He has generously agreed to assist me by being a supporting expert witness to enable the Inquiry to weigh the theological case. His evidence will concentrate on the first two chapters of Genesis, exegising the concept of stewardship, affirming God's involvement in Creation, and thereby reinforcing my central argument that our use of natural resources should be undertaken reverentially.


Sulian Stone Eagle Herney


The Inquiry will be aware that not all interested parties in the Lingerabay Superquarry debate will be of a Presbyterian, or even of a Christian disposition. It may even be that it is not outwith the bounds of insight that the apparent contradiction between Christian and ostensibly non-Christian systems of spirituality are less mutually exclusive than might once have been assumed (see Appendix 7 press correspondence). Accordingly, and out of respect to the wide spectrum of Scottish opinion, I have elicited the supporting witness of another expert, Sulian Stone Eagle Herney, Warrior Society leader of the Mi'Kmaq First Nation Peoples in Nova Scotia.


The significance of a perspective from Nova Scotia will not be lost on many Highlanders who were forcibly cleared and exiled there in the nineteenth century. Mr Stone Eagle is the Indigenous Peoples' Representative on the National Steering Committee of the Canadian Environmental Network. He has been authorised by the Grand Chief of the Mi'Kmaq as "the only appointed Grand Council representative who was mandated by the late Grand Chief Donald Marshall to do whatever he can to preserve our sacred mountain." This is Kluscap (Glooscap), or Kelly's Mountain, on Cape Breton Island. Like the mountain on Harris, it is subject to a superquarry proposal (see Appendix 7). I had the privilege to visit this special place in August and to share perspectives with local residents when giving a public address on Scottish indigenous land rights at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, under the auspices of the University of Cape Breton.


It is my view that Mr Stone Eagle's witness will help to supplement, or at least for some, to illuminate spiritual insight which has been lost to many of us in the modern era. Environmental theology has long been neglected within Christianity. However, global concerns have lead to a resurgence of new interest, ranging from the Pope's convention in Assisi, to formative conferences of the World Council of Churches, to new journals like "Theology in Green," to Professor Macleod's Presbyterian presence here today. I believe that the ecotheological insight of other native peoples like the Mi'Kmaq can be of educational value to us. This is quite independent from the question of whether their approach to indigenous religion is "true," any more than whether certain tenets of Christianity are "true." As St Paul recognised, the insight of the Spirit often outmanoeuvres the rigidity of the word. Mr Stone Eagle's theological reflections on superquarries derive, almost uniquely in the world, from his direct involvement in the issue on behalf of his people. As such, leaving aside any differences between religions, I consider his views might be found to have bearing here in Scotland. 



Statement of Principal Case (Testimony of Alastair McIntosh)

From the Presbyterian Christian viewpoint within which it is culturally appropriate here to frame my main argument, the fundamental question concerning a superquarry or any other articulation of human life must be whether it is consistent with what the Westminster Shorter Catechism calls the "chief end of man."[40] Will it further the glorification and enjoyment of God?[41] Will it do so not just today, not even for the next sixty years, but "for ever"?[42]


The answer must depend in large measure upon whether nature - the Creation - is considered to be irredeemably accursed or essentially blessed. If nature is hopelessly fallen, then the extent to which we violate it probably does not matter; but if nature is blessed, or merely temporarily fallen, then we should treat it with a reverence not unlike that accorded to another salvable human being.


What does Highland theology say to this? Post-Reformation Presbyterian opinion has often portrayed nature, like humankind, as being profoundly fallen. But this must be carefully understood historically, especially in the context of that exodus - both actual and psychological - which constituted the Highland Clearances.[43] 


The prophetic voice of socio-ecological theology became profoundly distorted in the 19th century Highlands.[44] As Professor Donald Meek has shown[45] it was to resurge as an indigenous liberation theology of the land, culminating in the 1886 Crofting Act. However, this was not before the seeds of a theology had been laid which diminished the implications of God's immanence. Significant numbers of pre-Disruption Established churchmen had preached, with respect to Clearance and famine, "that the Lord had a controversy with the land for the people's wickedness; and that in his providence, and even in his mercy, he had sent this scourge to bring them to repentance."[46] Hugh Miller cited people of Sutherland responding that, "We were ruined and reduced to beggary before, and now the gospel is taken from us."[47] 


The legacy to the 20th century has been a deficiency of clearly articulated Highland environmental theology. In part, this is because, at least until the inter-war years, Hebridean people in particular naturally lived an ecological way of life.[48] Being theologically explicit about environmental stewardship was not necessary. However, the modern advent of technologies and markets which can destroy our fisheries, soils and mountains now calls for renewed exegesis.


Spurred partly by the Seoul conference of the World Council of Churches on "Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation," the 1990s have seen a massive growth in scholarship demonstrating the potential "greenness" of the Christian faith. Regarding the fallen-ness or otherwise of nature, Calvin deWitt of the University of Wisconsin discusses Biblical images of the Earth passing away such as that of Romans 8:19-23. He would probably enjoy broad ecumenical consensus in concluding that:


            ... the problem is not with the creation itself, but with sin. Earth is being crushed under the weight of human sin and evil powers. Thus the images of the earth's passing are those more of refinement and purification - to rid creation of evil - than of outright destruction and replacement. Moreover, God's interest in creation is evident in the promise that those who destroy the earth will themselves be destroyed (Rev. 11:18, etc.).[49]


There is much to suggest that, whilst God is perhaps not to be confused with creation (pantheism), God is immanent or deeply present in creation (eg. the panentheism of Psalm 104 or Job 37). The Catechism and its commentary confirms that "God executeth His decrees in the works of Creation and Providence,"[50] that "He created all things, and still sustains them, and that in creation and providence we see God executing His own decrees." [51]Indeed, the works of providence are centrally about God "Preserving and Governing all His creatures and all their actions."[52]


It is further stated in the Catechism that the world which God still sustains was created "very good."[53] It is therefore taught that, whereas humankind may have fallen into "an estate of Sin and Misery,"[54] the nature of God's post-flood covenant with Noah (and with all who come after him and with all living creatures) is that God will never again lay waste to the Earth.[55] The rainbow is set as a reminder of this,[56] a symbol to be observed with frequency in the Western Isles.


The Biblical claim that the Noahic covenant is "for as long as the Earth endures,"[57] for "endless generations,"[58] suggests that God is concerned with the ongoing[59] conservation of nature.[60] The Psalms support this, praising nature's nature-conserving Creator who "sendeth forth" his spirit and "renewest the face of the earth.... who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.... the high hills ... a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies."[61] And Isaiah has this to say to nature's desecrators:


            The earth dries up and withers, the whole world withers and grows sick; the earth's high places sicken, and earth itself is desecrated by the feet of those who live in it, because they have broken the laws, disobeyed the statutes and violated the eternal covenant.[62]


Jesus himself frequently sought composure in the mountains where he would go to teach, pray, or simply find peace - eight times in Matthew's gospel alone.[63] Composure of the soul remains an essential function of such places to this day - the moreso because so many locations in Europe have already been desecrated. Indeed, the kind of tourism which Harris attracts might be understood partly in terms of secular, if not sacred pilgrimage.[64]


Significantly, Scottish Natural Heritage acknowledge the "spiritual" importance of Natural Heritage Areas, as does our Government's recent policy document on sustainable forestry. Spiritual insight on socio-ecological global crisis is also appealed to by the Secretary General of the United Nations. In 1989 he built upon earlier words of U-Thant, calling for, "... a fundamental change in societal attitudes ... draw(ing) upon not only the intellectual but also the spiritual resources of the world community."[65] With such a commission, what does Scripture have to say about economics as it might affect decisions about the superquarry?


It says that God offers us not riches in the first instance, but simple livelihood of right relationship[66] with ourselves, community and nature. And the courage to advocate justice[67] to make this possible now and for our children's children's children. And the possibility of coming to know the deep truth of eternal life through that theology of forgiveness taught by Christ, which unlocks the infinite vastness of love: a love to be found beyond the "eye of a needle;"[68] to be found in an economics of considering the lilies and not doubting "wherewithal shall we be clothed;"[69] to be found in seeking no more security than our "daily bread;"[70] to be found in that Kingdom which is "within" us or "all around"[71] us.


We must not, in the despair of "little faith,"[72] assume that only by desecrating nature is there any economic future. To do so would be to spurn the rainbow in an effort to blast out a crock of gold. The advent of the Harris Integrated Development Plan suggests there may be alternatives.[73] We should not sell the family silver before it has had chance to shine, for the ebb-tide of environmental awareness is now globally on the turn. And know that if we worship Mammon, we lose sensitivity to the implications of consuming environmental capital. The natural revenue basis for future generations is then irrevocably and unjustifiably undercut.[74]


The superquarry debate, driven largely by transportation policies based upon the "great car culture," places the Highlands and Islands in a devil's dilemma. Without economic development, it seems as if our communities might be further undone. But with the wrong sort of development, we answer more to Moloch than the land ethic of, say, Leviticus 25.


What, then, can the above theology say to conflicts between nature and economy? I would suggest the key lies in the concept of reverence. To be reverent means to be concerned with the integrity of a thing or person; to value it for itself; to work with it symbiotically, in celebration of its being, with that grace which is consistent with the "saying" of grace, and not with a graceless spirit of mere utility.[75]


The superquarrying of Roineabhal at Lingerabay would be theologically justified only if it can be undertaken reverentially; if it can be felt as part of the movement of love. It would mean enquiring whether government have considered reappraising national transportation policy to minimise the need for further motorway construction and coastal defences against damage perhaps already done to nature. It would mean recycling used rock otherwise dumped in landfill sites. If new quarries really are needed, then in accordance with the so-called "Silkin Test,"[76] reverence would entail assessing whether they are best located in National Scenic Areas, or at sites already despoiled by industrial activity.


I would hold that these considerations have not been addressed by proponents of the Lingerabay quarry.[77] Proceeding would therefore inexcusably violate the integrity of Creation. It would pre-emptively contradict that great vision of Isaiah; that prophesy which in today's broken world calls more and more loudly and sweetly:


            You will go out in joy

               and be led forth in peace;

            the mountains and hills

               will burst into song before you,

            and all the trees of the field

               will clap their hands.

            Instead of thornbush will grow the pine tree,

               and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

            This will be for the Lord's renown,

               for an everlasting sign,

               which will not be destroyed.  


            - Isaiah 55:12-13



Statement of Supplementary Witness - Rev. Prof. Donald Macleod,

Free Church College, Edinburgh


Lingerbay Quarry Inquiry: Theological Principles


To an extent that has no parallel elsewhere in the world, the ideology and culture of Harris are underpinned by presbyterian theology.  So far as ecological theology is concerned, however, there is nothing distinctive in presbyterianism and my perspective merely reflects the broad Judaeo-Christian tradition.


The most important influence on that tradition has, obviously, been the Jewish Scriptures, particularly the early chapters of the Book of Genesis.  But I believe that the basic emphases of that tradition have a force beyond that of a mere external canon.  They commend themselves to the deepest instincts of men and women, as, interacting with their environment, they experience both awareness of the existence of God and a sense of responsibility to the world in which He has placed them.


The points I would wish to emphasise may be summarised as follows:


1.         God as Creator has absolute sovereignty over the environment.  We must use it only in accordance with His will; and we shall answer, collectively as well as individually, for all our decisions in this area.


2.         Theologically, the primary function of the creation is to serve as a revelation of God.  To spoil the creation is to disable it from performing this function.


3.         In the Judaeo-Christian tradition there is an intimate link between man and the soil.  He is taken from the ground; his food is derived from it; he is commanded to till and to keep it; and he returns to it.  This implies a psychological as well as theological bond.  Although such facts should not be used to endorse naked territorialism they do raise the consideration that rape of the environment is rape of the community itself.


4.         The precise responsibility of man to his environment is defined very precisely in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.


            4.1       Man has to "keep" it (Genesis 2:15).  This is not simply an insistence on conservation.  It designates man as guardian and protector of the ground.


            4.2       Man is the servant of the ground (Genesis 2:15).  This is the usual meaning of the Hebrew word popularly rendered to us as to till.  Christian theology has largely failed to recognise this emphasis.  Any insistence on the more widely perceived notion of man's dominion must be balanced by the less familiar but equally important concept of man as servant.


5.         There is no place in the Judaeo-Christian tradition for divided guardianship of the land.  In particular, there is no place for the idea that agrarian rights may belong to the people while mineral rights belong to someone else.  This dichotomy is central to the current debate.  From a theological point of view the present arrangements, while perfectly legal, are indefensible.


6.         Man's relationship with his environment has been disrupted by the Fall.  One primary symptom of this is that he is always tempted to allow economic considerations to override ecological ones.  In the present instance the divinely appointed guardians and servants of Lingerbay are the people of Harris.  Unfortunately, these very people are now suffering a degree of economic hardship that threatens the very survival of their community.  Torn between their love for the land and their need for jobs they face a cruel dilemma.  Capitalism offers to help them in characteristic fashion: it will relieve unemployment provided the people surrender guardianship of the land (thus violating their own deepest instincts).


I am prepared to clarify, amplify and defend the above positions as required.



Statement of Supplementary Witness - Sulian Stone Eagle Herney,

Mi'Kmaq First Nation, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia



The following statement is printed as received by electronic mail, sent via the Nova Scotia Environment Centre. Please see Appendix 7 which gives background information on the Mi'Kmaq and the credentials of Mr Stone Eagle. This will help to set his witness pertaining to Harris in the wider context of his remit from his people. [Nb. this appendix is not part of what was published in the Journal of Law and Religion. It is in the original enquiry submission and supporting documentation, which is available for puchase – click the “Book Ordering” button on this website].


In his statement, Mr Stone Eagle points out that his is an oral culture; not one in which truth is heard best in writing. As such, he requests the Inquiry Reporter's permission to extemporise somewhat around the main points listed below, rather than merely reading the statement before being subject to cross examination.


This might be considered particularly appropriate with a theological presentation which, in his belief, will hopefully be given through divine guidance from the Great Spirit. In some Christian traditions such as Quakerism, this is what would be recognised as "speaking under the leadings of the Holy Spirit." I hope that such extemporisation will be considered appropriate within limits of time deemed fair to other parties and reasonable by the Inquiry Reporter. - A.I.M.


From: Nova Scotia Environmental Network

Subject: Sulian's presentation

Path: nsen

Date: Wed, 7 Sep 1994 23:42 EST

To: alastair@gn.apc.org


TO: Public Inquiry on the Proposed Harris Superquarry

From: Sulian Stone Eagle Herney, Mi'Kmaq First Nations, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.



Greetings Brother and Sisters from the Mi'Kmaq territory to your territory.      


As an Indigenous person of North America whose Grandfathers met your Grandfathers on their arrival to my territory several hundred years ago, we, the Mi'Kmaq First Nations have endured many trials and tribulations that were caused by the two Nations coming together.


In the history of the Mi'Kmaq First Nation we have never been defeated in war. We never ceded our aboriginal rights that were handed down to us by the Creator.


Prior to the arrival of the visitors to our shores, we, the Mi'Kmaq First Nation, had our own traditional form of government, laws and education that was totally different from the laws that were imposed upon us by the visitors to our territory. 


Our philosophy and spirituality has always been one where man was not dominant over the creation of other life forms, which we shared this territory with. It was always our belief and still is our belief that the Creator had placed the Mi'Kmaq people as caretakers of Mother Earth.   Somewhere in the past hundreds of years the majority of the Indigenous people, perhaps because of the influence of the non‑natives to our territory, became parasites of Mother Earth, thus destroying her natural bounty. 

It is with the resurrection of our traditional values and codes of conduct that our elders reintroduced to this generation, that reawakened the true Mi'Kmaq Spirit and spiritual connection to Mother Earth and the Creator. We, in Mi'Kmaq territory continue on a daily basis, to create solidarity with other Nations in N. America. We continue to create unity among all First Nations people with the common believe that the true philosophy of our grandfathers is the answer to save or to slow down the environmental destruction that is plaguing all of mankind.


It is my firm belief, that we, of this generation have no hope in solving the environmental deterioration that is ongoing as we speak. However, I also have firm convictions that we of this generation, may be able to slow down the destruction of our Mother Earth enough so that the next generation that will be replacing our leaders will find the solutions and the cure for Mother Earth. 


If we fail to do so Mother Earth will cleanse herself of the offending organism that is killing her. This is our teachings.


The destruction of any mountain, river or forest is horrifying to all of us whether it be the Hebrides in Scotland, the Shetland Islands or an oil spill in Alaska or the destruction of the Sacred Mountain in Nova Scotia. It is no longer tolerable to pretend or ignore these assaults.  Your mountain, your shorelines your rivers and your air are just as much mine and my grandchildrens as ours is yours.  To say that I am concerned about the proposed destruction in your territory, is to say that I am concerned about the destruction here in North America. 


It is my duty and my responsibility to the Creator and all life that I must get involved, with or without your blessings. Coming from a Tradition such as I come from it is customary among our people, to speak from the heart. It is customary that we place faith in the Creator to give us words of wisdom.  It has never been my practice nor will it ever be, to prepare a written text to be delivered to any committee, forum or audience. I have found this practice to have served me well for an number of years now and I have in my time had the privilege or misfortune to speak to delegates to as high an office as Ministers of the Canadian government to citizens of Canada, United States and Sweden.


I have never been able to shed a tear on cue. However, I have shed tears because of honesty. If I fail your criteria in being unable to present a written text more than what is here, I do apologize. But I also guarantee you, my belief instills me to deliver and my testimony will not let you down. For it is my firm conviction that there is a divine hand that guides me.


Once again I sincerely hope I am able to meet your requirements and that you are able to accept my witness. If not I gratefully thank you for your consideration and if I do indeed have the honour of being your guest, I will be grateful and honoured to assist in your battle to protect Mother Earth. For if I can assist you in your battle for the protection of land which should be shown reverence because the work of the Creator is sacred, then I am assisting my grandchildren who must take over my position once I have entered the Spirit World. 



Appendix: The Fallacy of the Presumption of Symmetrical Depreciation in the Substitutionality of Natural and Human-Made Capital


Please click here to view this appendix to the inquiry submission.




(Nb. The style in this internet version is not consistent due to the merging of several different documents. In the published version, of course, notes were standardised to Law & Religion’s house style.)

[1] Mackenzie,  W. C., History of the Outer Hebrides, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1903.

[2]  Carmichael, A., Carmina Gadelica, Floris Books, Edinburgh, 1992.

[3]  Wilson, I.,  Scotland's Hidden Wealth: Large Coastal Quarries and their Potential Role in Developing a Scottish Integrated Mineral Strategy, Conference Proceedings, 1st March 1991, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, 44 pp., Edinburgh, 1991.

[4] Private notes on a meeting between Ian Wilson, Malcolm Slesser, Ulrich Loening, Alesia Maltz and Alastair McIntosh, Centre for Human Ecology, June 1991.

[5]  See Harry Barton, The Isle of Harris Superquarry: Concepts of the Environment and Sustainability in 5:2, Environmental Values, 97-122 (1996).

[6]  In lion hunting, an unwanted horse would sometimes be put out to attract the animal being stalked.

[7] Letters by McIntosh, A. and Callaghan, I. in Stornoway Gazette, 30th April 1992 and 7th May 1992; Harris group to look at quarry alternatives, West Highland Free Press, 29 May 1992, 5.

[8] McIntosh, A. Theology goes against superquarry, 31 March 1994, 11.

[9]  McIntosh, A “A Collector’s Item” or community ownership - the Isle of Eigg debate, Edinburgh Review, 88, Summer 1992, 158-162. For analysis of Scottish land usurpment and contemporary conscientisation-based approaches to restitution, see Alastair McIntosh, Andy Wightman., Daniel Morgan, The Scottish Highlands in Colonial an Psychodynamic Perspective, Interculture: International Journal of Intercultural and Transdisciplinary Research, XXVII:3, Montreal, 1994, 1 - 36; or by the same authors: Reclaiming the Scottish Highlands: Clearance, Conflict, Crofting, The Ecologist, 24:2, 1994, 64-70.

[10]  Panikkar, R., Nine Sutras on Peace, Interculture, XXIV:1, Montreal, 1991, 49-56.

[11]  One Foot in Eden, in Dunn, D. (ed.), The Faber Book of Twentieth-Century Scottish Poetry, faber and faber, 1992, 29-30.

[12]  Wink, W., Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1992.

[13]  Ian Wilson, speaking from the floor at an openly tape-recorded public lecture on the Harris superquarry proposal by Dr Alesia Maltz at Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh, 15 October 1991.

[14]  Gutierrez, G., The Power of the Poor in History, SCM, London, 1983.

[15]  Gutierrez, G., A Theology of Liberation, SCM, 1973, xxxviii.

[16]  Ibid. 20-21.

[17]  Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1971; Kirkwood, G. & C., Living Adult Education: Freire in Scotland, Open University Press, 1989; Crowther, J., Martin, I. and Shaw, M. (eds.), Popular Education and Social Action in Scotland Today, forthcoming from Moray House Institute of Education, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, 1998.

[18]  Illich, I., Shadow Work, Open Forum, 1981.

[19]  Ibid..

[20]  Rich, A., What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics, W.W. Norton, 1993.

[21]  Walker, A., Revolutionary Petunias (1988) and Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful (1985), both The Women’s Press, London.

[22]  Lorde, A., Sister Outsider, Crossing Press, Freedom CA, 1984.

[23]  In Gaelic “bh” is pronounced “v”; thus “Roin-e-val”.

[24]  McIntosh, A., Journey to the Hebrides, Scottish Affairs, 6, 1994, 52-67.

[25]  Stone Eagle to Fly in for Battle to Stop Superquarry, The Scotsman, 17 September 1994.

[26]  Macleod, D., “We sing today not the landlord’s song ...”, The Crofter, 27, Isle of Skye, 6.

[27]  Calvin, J., Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book III:XIV:20.

[28]  Wright, R., Fundamental Feud, The Scotsman, Edinburgh, 24 May 1995, 14.

[29]  McIntosh, A. (ed.), Theology and the Isle of Harris Superquarry Public Inquiry (collected papers), Centre for Human Ecology, 15 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, August 1995, 101 (available $25 airmail, 154 pp.).

[30]  Massive swing of opinion against superquarry, West Highland Free Press, 26 May 1995, 1.

[31]  Iain Aonghas MacLeod, Roineghal, Stornoway Gazette, 25th May 1995, p. 9 & 1st June 1995, p. 4.

[32]  Wright in The Scotsman, op. cit..

[33]  CBC Fifth Estate documentary, Stone Eagle: Better Known as Billy, early December 1994. Stone Eagle’s principal detractor in this film, a Mi’Kmaq anthropologist, recently approached him in the street and without solicitation said, “I’m sorry, Sulian.” Our complaint about serious misrepresentation was investigated but not further acted upon by the CBC ombudsman. For legal reasons I must emphasise that I have no firm evidence that the CBC did set out to frame Stone Eagle.

[34] Editorial, All you need is ... wisdom, New Scientist, London, 10 June 1995, 3, and letters, 1 July 1995, 48.

[35]  Unfortunately, as this article goes to press, University administrators have made a fresh move to destroy the Centre for Human Ecology by axing all staff positions and suspending the MSc course as of September, 1996. See A Narrow Kirk in Edinburgh, New Scientist editorial (May 4, 1996) defending our “tradition of fearless inquiry.” We are currently considering setting up an independent Human Ecology Centre and perhaps even a free university.

[36]  Watson, J., Red light puts brake on green quango, Scotland on Sunday, Edinburgh, 24 December 1995, 6.

[37]  22 November 1995.

[38]  The $5,000 cost was largely met by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Christendom Trust, an anonymous Hebridean-based company, a Canadian industrialist and farmer born in Harris and many well-wishers. I record profound appreciation to them and those who gave non-financial support, especially various colleagues in the University of Edinburgh (though this work was conducted under personal auspices), colleagues at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, my mother, Ian and Jane Callaghan, Dr Donald Murray and many others who might not wish to be named on Lewis and Harris.

[39] Jason Allardyce, Media Out in Force for “Transatlantic Cultural Psychotherapy Session”,  West Highland Free Press,  11 November 1994, front and back page.

[40]. Westminster Shorter Catechism, p.7. (see Appendix 2) (Knox Press 1991).

[41]. Ibid..

[42]. Ibid..

[43]. See Appendix 3: McIntosh, A., Wightman, A., Morgan, D., Reclaiming the Scottish Highlands: Clearance, Crofting and Conflict, The Ecologist, 24:2, 1994, 64-71.

[44]. See for example, Hunter, J., The Making of the Crofting Community, John Donald, Edinburgh, 1976, 94 - 106.

[45]. See Appendix 4: Meek, D., The Land Question Answered from the Bible: the Land Issue and the Development of a Highland Theology of Liberation, Scottish Geographical Magazine, 103:2, 1987, 84-89.

[46]. McLeod, D., Highland Clearances: Donald McLeod's Gloomy Memories, Archibald Sinclair, Glasgow, 1892, Nevisprint facsimile reprint, Fort William, undated, p. 35.

[47]. Ibid. p. 174.

[48]. See Appendix 5: McIntosh, A., Journey to the Hebrides, Scottish Affairs, 6, 1994, 52-67.

[49]. deWitt, C., The Environment and the Christian, Baker Book House, Michigan, 1991.

[50]. Op. cit., p. 11.

[51] Ibid.

[52]. Op. cit., p. 12.

[53]. Op. cit., p. 11.

[54]. Op. cit., p. 15.

[55]. Gen. 8 - 9.

[56]. Gen. 9:11-13.

[57]. Gen. 8:22, translation as used by the WCC at Seoul, or, "while the earth lasts" (NEB).

[58]. Gen. 9:12.

[59]. It is worth considering how many future people our decision about destroying the mountain may affect. This is impossible to assess with confidence because we do not know the likely duration of the human race, though life on the planet can be expected to continue for at least the 4,000 million (4 billion) years it has already been around for before the sun goes into supernova. However, we can arguably speculate numbers on the basis of the Biblical presumption that humankind will survive for the duration of the Earth.


Roineabhal, as part of the South Harris Igneous Complex, has probably been standing for 1,870 million years.* If future  populations of Harris were to average around 2,000, and the average human lifespan to be three-score years and ten, then if the mountains endure for as long as they have already endured, the decision to demolish Roineabhal will affect scenic appreciation for a future 53 billion residents. This takes no account of visitors. It also neglects ice-ages which would very substantially reduce the number of habitable years. Nevertheless, the effect of thinking of future generations in any sort of numeric terms is salutary.


* Piper, J.D.A., Post-Laxfordian magnetic imprint in the Lewisian metamorphic complex and strike-slip motion in the Minches, NW Scotland, Journal of the Geological Society, 149, London, 1992, 127-137.

[60]. I am grateful for thinking inspired on this by my visiting academic colleague from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor Orin Gelderloos. See, Gelderloos, O., Ecotheology: the Judeo-Christian Tradition and the Politics of Ecological Decision Making, Centre for Human Ecology and The Iona Community, Wild Goose Publications, 1992.

[61]. Psalms 104:30,5,18. NEB translates "conies" as "rock-badgers." This text might be seen as apposite by those who are concerned about the effect of the quarry on the Lingerabay otter population.

[62]. Isaiah 24:4-5, NEB trans..

[63]. Mat. 4:8; 5:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1; 24:3; 26:30; 28:16 (Nb. in the original text I had wrongly cited Mat. 14:23 as 14:27).

[64]. Regarding the notion that the Harris superquarry might become "a major tourist attraction" (Vol. 1, 11.59, Council Joint Report), on a recent visit to a 3.5 million ton superquarry where the Cape Breton Island causeway connects to Nova Scotia, I asked the duty manager if tourists often came to visit. He indicated that I was their first.


The view has been expressed by, for instance, Mr Ian Wilson, that the Lewisian Gneiss glaciated scenery of Harris "already looks like a moonscape, so the quarry would make no difference and might improve it." This is a matter of opinion. It is arguably the case that some of the greatest poetry, song and music of the European tradition have come from such Cetic fringes on the Western Edge of the continent, as John Killick's poem about "Lewisian Gneiss Outcrops" printed on the cover of this presentation indicates (from Bruce, G., with Rennie, F., eds., The Land out There: a Scottish Land Anthology, Aberdeen University Press, 1991, 6). Perhaps places like Harris are here to be sources of such creative inspiration. Perhaps this is what the world needs now, and will demand increasingly in the future. The contribution of the Hebrides to global economy, the justification for subsidies, etc., is partly output in terms of inspiration to poetry, music, art and the many fruits of spirituality.


Kenneth White, Professor of 20th Century Poetics at the Sorbonne,  is one powerful Scottish voice speaking to the relationship between ontology and nature. He writes about the poetics of deep relationship with place: "(It is) in those rock-piles - that the poetics lie ... poetry, geography - and a higher unity: geopoetics ..."  (White, K., Elements of Geopoetics, Edinburgh Review, 88, Summer 1992, 163-178).


Consistent with Professor Macleod's view (below) that "the primary function of the creation is to serve as a revelation of God," Hugh MacDairmid demonstrates how, even for an agnostic or atheist, Scottish landscapes like Harris call us to considering matters of ultimate concern - theology. In his epic poem, "On a Raised Beach," we see how secular pilgrimage draws the soul towards holy pilgrimage - pilgrimage which reveals the wholeness of all, the integrity of creation. (I am grateful to Tom Forsyth of Scoraig, Wester Ross, for drawing my attention to the meanings of pilgrimage in the context of our mutual work with the Isle of Eigg Trust.)


from On a Raised Beach


We must be humble. We are so easily baffled by appearances

And do not realise that these stones are one with the stars....


Let men find the faith that builds mountains

Before they seek the faith that moves them. Men cannot hope

To survive the fall of the mountains....

These stones go through Man, straight to God, if there is one....

Who thinks God is easier to know than they are?

Trying to reach men any more, any otherwise, than they are?

These stones will reach us long before we reach them....


What happens to us

Is irrelevant to the world's geology

But what happens to the world's geology

Is not irrelevant to us.

We must reconcile ourselves to the stones,

Not the stones to us.


- I lift a stone; it is the meaning of life I clasp

Which is death, for that is the meaning of death;...

- Though slow as the stones the powers develop

To rise from the grave - to get a life worth having;

And in death - unlike life - we lose nothing that is truly ours.


            - Hugh MacDairmid, from Bruce, G., op. cit., pp. 13-14.

[65]. Centre for Human Ecology, University of Edinburgh, information publication, 1990.

[66]. Isaiah 11:9.

[67]. Amos 5:24.

[68]. Mat. 19:24.

[69]. Mat. 6:19-34.

[70]. Mat. 6:11.

[71]. Luke 17:20-21, NEB alternative translations.

[72]. Mat. 6:30.

[73]. My focus here on theological arguments should not be allowed to give the impression that I am not also concerned about employment. In a letter to the Stornoway Gazette in April 1992 I put forward ideas about local strategic planning, based on work undertaken on the Isle of Eigg. These were expanded on by Ian Callaghan and eventually contributed to the community's and their councillors' thought on the Harris Integrated Development Plan. With my American colleague, Dr Maltz, I have also made proposals for value-added employment related to the Harris Tweed industry - one of Harris's biggest potential economic unique selling points. Dr Maltz is following this through, looking at sales potential in Maine and Nova Scotia.

[74]. I am aware that my argument based on reverence can be weakened (though not undermined) if the presumption is made in a naive sense that non-renewable natural capital can be substituted for by human-made capital deemed to be of equal or greater value to what has been destroyed. Accordingly, I explore this question in Appendix 6, entitled: The Fallacy of the Presumption of Symmetrical Depreciation in the Substitutionality of Natural and Human-Made Capital. This paper is presently being reworked into a more academic form with Gareth Edward-Jones, an ecological economist colleague at the Scottish Agricultural College, hopefully to be published in a journal of ecological economics.

[75]. One theological perspective from which this view of reverence can be readily derived is that of a realised eschatology - an eschatology (that is to say, an understanding of the end of all things) which sees the Kingdom of Heaven as being potentially with us in the here and now. This is consistent, for instance, with Luke 17:20-21. In this text Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven comes unawares, that it is "all around" or "within" (NEB).


In Quaker theology as derived from Barclay's "Apology," this is a logical implication of Trinitarian theology and of the Incarnation which, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, restores to our vision the immanence of the divine. Thus the ontological position becomes as it was with the Word "in the beginning" (John 1:1-5). In this way the world is potentially made anew in the transformed human heart, thereby answering the petition of the Lord's Prayer that "Thy Kingdom come ... on Earth" of Matthew 6:10. For many Quakers, such a theology dissolves any essential need for separate sacraments such as communion services, since all is taken up in "the sacrament of the present moment." It is arguable that the ecological consequences may be a recognition that our lives are involved in "re-setting the seeds of Eden" (Mike Collard, Eire).


I stress that the above exegesis is only one basis from which an understanding of reverence may be derived. For many people in the world, a sense of reverence arises quite outwith any theological context, Christian or otherwise. This happens as a natural and deeply felt movement in the heart, made amenable more by sensing and feeling than by rationality. As such, whilst having chosen to frame my main argument in theological terms as is fitting in the Western Isles, I hope that its conclusions might find merit with others who did not, as I did, grow up in a Presbyterian Hebridean context.

[76]. The Silkin Test is a principle of environmental assessment which says, of exploitation of a non-renewable resource, that we should:


1.         Ensure that exploitation is "absolutely necessary" in the national interest.


2.         Determine that there is no possible alternative source of supply.


3.         If these conditions are satisfied, then ensure that restoration is carried out at the earliest opportunity.

[77]. Some experts, including Martin Kirk who I have faced on a debating platform with Mr Ian Wilson, would hold that the future market for aggregate is unsteady, to the extent that the superquarry concept "is clearly flawed" and represents "the mistaken belief that 'biggest is best'." - Kirk, M., Coastal Quarry or Superquarry? A review of strategy for hard-rock coastal quarries, Quarry Management, August 1993.



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