A FRESH wave of protest and anger has swept the Greengairs area of Lanarkshire after a controversial new proposal by an opencast mining company to discharge effluent from a new mine into local waterways.

The Lanarkshire protesters have been joined by national angling bodies who fear that the River Kelvin, now salmon-bearing once again at vast expense to the public purse after 150 years of gross pollution, could be the ultimate victim of any new spill.

They claim their fears are justified. The company involved, GM Mining, Ltd, of Drumshangie Opencast, Greengairs Road, Airdrie - 51% owned by David Murray, chairman of Rangers - was last year fined a record #16,000 for damaging another burn with what Airdrie Sheriff Court heard was ''grossly polluting unsettled effluent'' from their mine.

Greengairs villagers and neighbouring farmers fought a long and costly battle against the company's plans for an opencast mine at Boglea and Cameron Farms, leading to a public inquiry in 1998. The Scottish Office granted planning permission last summer subject to some conditions, despite Greengairs already having four landfill sites and another opencast mine close by.

The company then pledged a #100,000 bond to Greengairs to fund community projects.

A spokesman for GM Mining said yesterday they were fully aware of the representations made by others, adding: ''The consultation process is now in the hands of SEPA and, pending any further discussions with them, we will await their decision. Whatever that is, we will continue to deal closely with SEPA as we always do on these matters.''

The Herald understands, however, that the new opencast cannot operate without getting rid of the rainwater and groundwater which inevitably accumulates on a 69 hectare (175-acre) site.

The company has applied to dump up to 145,000 gallons of waste water daily from settling lagoons into two burns, the Cameron and Rumblybugs Burns, which join the Luggie Water - a substantial trout stream which in turn joins the Kelvin in Kirkintilloch.

SEPA had received 15 representations from individuals and organisations before the closing date earlier this week and a decision will be made soon.

Under the Control of Pollution Act the protection agency is not allowed to include the company's previous pollution record in what has to be an objective assessment.

One protester, Paul Devlin, owns Wester Glentore Farm across which the Rumblybugs Burn flows. He is also the proprietor of Scotland's largest angling store, Glasgow Angling Centre.

''My horses and cattle drink directly from the burns and any pollution by sediments or diesel spillage could have a serious effect on their health.

''The discharge of even treated effluent will also adversely affect the wildlife, including the otters, badgers and kingfishers which use the area and the significant increase in volume of water could scour out sediments from the banks and damage spawning grounds for trout.

''Many local anglers fish the Cameron and the Luggie and use my shop at Cumbernauld Village. Any major pollution from this mine could hit the Luggie which will shortly be clean enough for salmon to run and that would be a disaster.''

He claims he could lose a substantial horse stabling business if the burn, which will receive waste discharge from the mining company's vehicle and stockpiling yards, becomes unfit for horses.

The River Clyde Fisheries Management Trust has opposed the planned discharge, pointing out that salmon and sea trout - now recognised as internationally endangered - are recolonising the Clyde catchment area, including the Kelvin system, which makes the Clyde unique among Scottish rivers.

They point to the vast investment of money and effort which has gone into cleaning the Kelvin. Given the delicate state of water quality in the Kelvin Catchment, the Trust says, ''we cannot see the logic in jeopardising the present position by allowing trade effluent of any kind to enter any water course in the Kelvin Catchment''.

The Trust also point to the vast sums of public cash being spent on the Kelvin Valley Sewer - #67m - which has restored health and salmonids to the rivers.

Doug Brown, a director of the Trust, says: ''This is an enormously important decision which has wider implications. Glasgow city is rightly proud of its reborn river with its salmon.

''The Kelvin is a very important part of that. When Deerdykes and Auchengeich Sewage Works are connected to the Kelvin Valley Sewer by next March and stop discharging, the Luggie will quickly become clean enough for the salmon and sea trout to use it and the Cameron Burn to spawn once again.

''Any poor quality discharge or spillage could be utterly devastating.''

ACA (Anglers' Clearwater Association) Scotland have told SEPA that the Kelvin environmental improvements are hailed as a model for others to emulate.

''The proposed mining site, if not properly controlled, has huge potential to destroy the excellent success won under very difficult conditions in the Kelvin catchment,'' Sandy Forgan, ACA secretary, said.

Mrs Ann Coleman, of Wester Glentore House, Greengairs, told The Herald: ''We know that no commercial concern is going to take action which costs it money unless forced to do so by legislation.

''But here there is no law to prevent damage occurring. SEPA appear to have no authority to be pro-active. They can only react after the event.''