-- David Ross, Highland Correspondent"THE man who began the recent controversy over the Duke of Sutherland's statue on Ben Bhraggie no longer wants to demolish the red sandstone memorial to one of the first names in the demonology of the Highland Clearances.
"A lesser fate for the Great Improver's effigy will now satisfy and the planning application has consequently been withdrawn for amendment. As a result, the issue, which has attracted national and international attention, will not be discussed at next Monday's meeting of Sutherland divisional planning committee as scheduled.
"But Mr Sandy Lindsay, the former SNP regional councillor who in September lodged the planning application seeking permission to demolish the structure, is not weakening in his resolve to clear the 30ft toga-draped first duke from his mountain perch. The man, whose memory still offends so many and whose likeness stands on a 76ft pedestal casting his stoney gaze on the town of Golspie below, will still have to go if Mr Lindsay gets his way.
"We are making a few very minor changes to the application. We originally asked permission to demolish the statue. But we are not vandals, so we are going to change the application to ask that the statue be 'removed', rather than demolished.
We don't really care what happens to it then. Perhaps it should be taken down and put in the back garden of Dunrobin Castle, the seat of the Sutherland family. There should be enough space there. I thought that I might be able to interest the Getty Museum in taking it, but I have received a letter from them declining the offer.
"In the amended application, we will also be asking to site some information panels on the top of Ben Bhraggie in memory of the people who were cleared and harried by the first duke, or George Granville Levenson-Gower to give him his proper name, and his agents like Patrick Sellar and James Loch.
"I have come in for quite a bit of criticism for starting all this but it is nothing to the approval my idea has won. I have had messages of support from all over the world. I even received a letter backing me from New Zealand. It said that the duke had cast a long shadow. It is a pretty long shadow when Scottish emigrants can still feel his darkness in New Zealand."
Highland region's divisional planning officer Mr David Polson, whose Dornoch office processed Mr Lindsay's application, told The Herald the application would have been considered at next week's meeting but the applicants had asked for more time.
As a result, the earliest the divisional planning committee will now be able to consider the application will be at its meeting at the end of January. But, of course, that will depend on the applicants sending in their amended application in time for that meeting.''
-- Glasgow Herald, circa December 15th, 1995
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