A former opencast colliery at Polkemmet in West Lothian is being transformed into two championship golf courses, leisure facilities and residential housing, in the first project of its kind in Scotland.

With support from WRAP, up to 15,000 tonnes of quality compost will be used to construct the first six fairways of the championship golf courses. Ultimately more than 150,000 tonnes of compost may be used in the regeneration of the site.

Years of deep mine and open cast operations have left the site with more than 4M cubic metres of colliery waste, devoid of any soil and in desperate need of remediation. The site owners, Ecosse Regeneration, wanted to regenerate the land in a sustainable and cost-effective way, avoiding the traditional method of importing new topsoil.

Great leap forward

Ecosse Regeneration signed up to WRAP’s brownfield trailblazer programme following an earlier WRAP-funded pilot study on the site. This involved mixing quality BSI PAS 100 compost with screened colliery shale at various ratios to create new soil media, which were then seeded with turfgrass species.

The programme is designed to help developers, designers and contractors investigate the financial and environmental benefits of specifying high quality compost in brownfield projects. Ecosse Regeneration project manager Alex Muirhead explains: “We wanted to regenerate the site in a cost-effective and sustainable way so we initially trialled quality compost mixed with colliery shale to manufacture topsoil on a small section of the site.

“Compost provides an excellent balance of water and nutrient retention properties when mixed with screened colliery shale and we were pleased with the results from the original trial, which showed rapid and uniform establishment of turf grasses without weed problems. The new soil will also be sufficiently free-draining to ensure that the golf courses remain playable under the wettest of conditions.

“The trials also produced cost benefits, particularly when comparing the cost of manufacturing soil containing compost and colliery shale to importing topsoil.”

The compost for the project is being sourced from local suppliers GP Green of Lanarkshire, Forth Resource Management of Edinburgh, West Lothian Recycling of West Lothian, William Tracy of Ayrshire, and Scottish Water. In addition to the soil manufacture process, trees have been rescued from the bings (spoil heaps) on site and from the M8 extension works, and will be replanted into the new golf courses.

The BSI PAS 100 certification means that the compost has been manufactured to a consistently high quality and is also safe, reliable and sustainable.

  • For details on how BSI PAS 100 compost can help reduce the cost of brownfield regeneration, visit www.wrap.org.uk/composting

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