Thousands of hectares of new woodland are being created across central Scotland’s former coal fields as Hargreaves Land marks the completion of its latest sale to Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS).

Over 400 hectares of land which has been remediated and restored, through decompaction and the addition of organic nutrients, at the Netherton former open cast site in East Ayrshire have been sold to FLS, the Scottish Government agency responsible for managing the country’s national forests and land, in a deal that will continue to enable the re-greening of central Scotland’s former coal mining sites.

Netherton is the latest site being returned to woodland and grassland for future generations of local people and communities to enjoy, and follows several other sites sold to FLS in recent years that will benefit from this initiative.

A former open cast mine in Damside near Shotts, derelict land at Piperhill near Cumnock and a site at St Ninians near Dunfermline in Fife are also being transformed into dynamic, vibrant greens spaces designed to help revitalise communities and bring back local landscapes, following decades of coal mining.

Since 2019, as part of a successful collaboration with FLS to regenerate and re-purpose locations that once featured so strongly in Scotland’s coal mining history, Hargreaves Land has sold almost 1,500 hectares of land that was remediated by Hargreaves’ own in-house restoration team, Hargreaves Environmental Services (HES) who utilise bio-resources to enable the establishment of commercial and native broadleaf forestry.

Andrew Johnson, head of asset management for Hargreaves Land, said: “This initiative is playing an important role to make former industrial sites, with extremely limited potential, into land suitable for planting and will leave a positive legacy for future generations. Hargreaves is delighted to have been involved in this project as well as the remediation of these sites and we look forward to seeing forestry created at all of  these locations.”

Robin Waddell, FLS acquisitions agent and vacant and derelict land project manager, added “Netherton is another step towards transforming sites across South Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Fife by planting about five million trees to create 2,500 hectares of vibrant and economically productive greenspace.

“These four sites are being transformed into a great resource for local communities and for biodiversity,” he said. “Furthermore, the creation of new woodland is playing a part in delivering Scotland’s climate change ambitions and returning greenspace to local communities and habitats.”