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Plan to re-green coal sites takes leap forward

05 Mar 2020

Forestry and Land Scotland’s (FLS) programme of converting vacant and derelict land into new forests is soon to reach another major milestone this spring, when a newly remediated site is handed over for tree planting.

The Piperhill site (Galloway) is undergoing the final stages of remediation. The work is being done by Hargreaves Environmental Services on behalf of the site owners, Hargreaves Land Limited, and once completed (spring 2020), FLS will take full ownership of the 216ha site and plant approximately 150 ha of productive conifer and 20ha native.

Robin Waddell for Forestry and Land Scotland, said;  “We’ve been working closely with Hargreaves and our contractors to ensure that the Piperhill site is in the best condition possible for tree planting.

“We  have a track record in this field and have already created over 600ha of new woodland across a number of vacant and derelict land sites. The experience we have gained from this puts us in a good position to meet this challenge of re-greening some bleak and barren eye-sores across Scotland’s landscape.

“Our long-term vision is to transform sites across South Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and in Fife by planting about 5,000,000 trees to create 2,500ha of vibrant and economically productive greenspace. Getting the Piperhill site to the condition where it is ready to plant is a huge step towards meeting that ambition.”

FLS Vacant and Derelict Land projects aims to re-green former open-cast coal sites and open up new, vibrant green spaces to help revitalise communities and local landscapes blighted by the legacy of opencast mining. The project will also contribute towards national climate change ambitions, including targets for creating new woodlands, locking up carbon, improving biodiversity.

In taking forward its Vacant and Derelict Land project, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), is working in partnership with the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT), Hargreaves, Hall Construction. The Piperhill site sits within the Ayr Valley Restoration programme, which is just one element of the overall project.

Andy Johnson, Head of Asset Management for Hargreaves Land, said; “We were approached by FLS almost two years ago and commenced a review of all derelict sites in our ownership.  Working together, we were able to identify various opportunities for remediation and forestry creation and are delighted to have transacted on the first of these. 

“I hope that the site at Piperhill is the first of many and that we can continue to work with the team at FLS to find solutions for other former opencast sites which leaves a positive legacy for local communities and future generations.”

A Land Management Plan is currently being developed with a view to planting either in the winter of 2020 or spring of 2021. The existing peatland on the site will not be planted.