Green light for landmark restoration project

Friday, 17 January 2014

THE Scottish Mines Restoration Trust is helping facilitate the restoration of an abandoned opencast coal mine in southern Scotland.

The Glenmuckloch site, which straddles the Dumfriesshire and Ayrshire border, near Kirkconnel, is being given an £8.15m cash injection from a restoration bond, following Dumfries and Galloway Council’s negotiations with the Scottish Government and landowner Buccleuch Estates.

The money will fund the restoration project, which will create between 30 and 60 jobs in the area.

The site ceased to operate in 2011 when Aardvark (TMC), the main trading arm of ATH Resources, went into liquidation.

In July 2013, Buccleuch Estates, Hargreaves Services and Dumfries and Galloway Council revealed they were working together to design a project to restore parts of the site and create renewable energy technologies whilst continuing excavation.

The Scottish Mines Restoration Trust worked with the stakeholders involved in the project to devise a plan for moving forward.

Professor Russel Griggs, chairman of the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, said: “To support the restoration of opencast mines that have been abandoned as a result of operators going into administration and liquidation, our objective has been to engage with the stakeholders involved in the restoration process and work with them to find solutions to the challenges and opportunities the sites of coal mines can bring.

“We have met this key objective for Glenmuckloch by bringing together all relevant groups to deliver a pragmatic and innovative approach to restoring old opencast sites.

“We believe this project has the potential to set the benchmark for future restoration projects, demonstrating what can be achieved when community groups, landowners, the private sector and Government work together to deliver successful restoration.”

Councillor Brian Collins, depute leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “This excellent result is due to a combined effort by all concerned, including the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, and officers of our Council. Not only will the Restoration Bond be important in improving the local environment, it will bring employment opportunities for local people.”

Minister for energy, enterprise and tourism, Fergus Ewing, who chairs the cross-party Scottish Coal Industry Taskforce created to help address the challenges facing the coal industry in Scotland following the collapse of coal operators ATH and SRG, said: “Over the past months Scottish Government Officials, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust, local community representatives, the bond provider, the coal operator and Buccleuch Estates have all worked together to develop an exciting project at Glenmuckloch which will bring much needed jobs to the area, stimulate the local economy and, very importantly, restore the open cast site.

“This great example of sustained joint working at a local level is warmly welcomed and shows that appropriate and innovative solutions to restoration are coming forward and, in this case, being delivered.”

John Glen, chief executive of the Buccleuch Group, said: “We are delighted that a solution has been found which protects the jobs and enables an appropriate restoration of the site. We continue to develop our concept of creating an energy park which will generate considerable benefit for the local community.”