Community energy park takes centre stage in restoration project

Tuesday, 01 July 2014

Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing today marked a significant development in the restoration of the Glenmuckloch surface mining site as he launched the Glenmuckloch community energy park. 

Since work began late last year, over two million cubic metres of material has been moved and shaped across the 235 hectare site. Soiling and grass planting is now well underway, with particular focus on the areas visible from the A76 trunk road.

The restoration of Glenmuckloch is being delivered by Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd and remains on track for completion during the first half of 2015.

This pragmatic approach to restoration, and to bringing the site back into community use, will be complemented by the community energy park.

Subject to conditions, Dumfries and Galloway Council has approved plans for up to two wind turbines in a development adjacent to the Glenmuckloch surface mine, near Kirkconnel.

The energy park project is being delivered by four key partners – Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, Buccleuch Estates, Hargreaves and Dumfries and Galloway Council - with each partner initially contributing £50,000. Hargreaves has also announced it will contribute an additional £100,000 to the project.

Energy consultant 2020 Renewables carried out a feasibility study on the site earmarked for the turbines, which covers approximately four hectares and is bounded by forestry and an access road.

The revenue produced by the turbines will be placed into a community trust. The trust will then establish an investment committee made up of fifth and sixth year pupils from Sanquhar Academy who will then decide on how the money will be used in the community.

News of the energy park follows the announcement that the Glenmuckloch surface mining site is to be given an £8.15m cash injection from a restoration bond, after negotiations between Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Scottish Government and Buccleuch Estates.

Professor Russel Griggs OBE, chairman of the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, said: “The energy park is the first step in the restoration process, and demonstrates that we have found a pragmatic solution to the problem of a disused area surrounding the Glenmuckloch mining site.

“Introducing an energy park to this area of Dumfries and Galloway is a very positive step, and the community trust, along with the restoration itself, will provide the community with long-term, sustainable benefits. 

“Community involvement is essential in a project like this, and it’s vital that people engage with the project and let us know their thoughts going forward.”

Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism Fergus Ewing, who chairs the cross-party Scottish Coal Industry Taskforce said: “Over the past months, Scottish Government officials, the local council authority, the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, Hargreaves and the local community have all worked together in developing this exciting project at Glenmuckloch.

“Restoration of opencast sites is a long term undertaking which requires collaborative working from all parties involved to be successful.

“This site is a great example of what can be achieved when everyone works together and where innovation and creative thinking is applied and taken forward.”

Peter Gillatt, managing director, Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd said: “The restoration of Glenmuckloch is a great example of what can be achieved when all stakeholders come together with a common goal.

“Our team has faced some difficult challenges on site, especially with the weather, but in just over six months they have achieved some amazing results which will create a positive legacy.

“We are also extremely pleased to be able to support the energy project with £150,000 of funding and in kind works on site, which we know will provide considerable support to the local community.”

John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch, said: “The project will deliver significant, environmental, economic, energy and community benefits.

“There is also a real opportunity to develop the energy resource in Dumfries and Galloway which may be very significant and could deliver long-lasting economic benefits to the area.

“The Glenmuckloch project shows what can be achieved through constructive, collaborative working among government and organisations sharing the same vision.”

Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, chairman of the Dumfries and Galloway Council policy and resources committee, said: “This project offers excellent learning opportunities for young people in Upper Nithsdale while delivering much needed funding for community projects.

“The participating pupils will be able to develop business skills that will be of benefit to them in their studies and subsequent careers. Community groups will be able to apply for funds to carry out projects to benefit people in the area.”

Marilyn Barbour, headteacher at Sanquhar Academy said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our pupils to work at this level with businesses and industry and in particular to work with the community and to give back to the community."

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