A plan to create an energy park at the former Glenmuckloch open cast coal mine in Dumfries and Galloway took a significant step forward today when the Scottish government gave consent for a pumped storage hydro scheme of up to 400MW on the site.
The project would regenerate the former opencast site, which has ceased commercial coaling and is now undergoing restoration works. It would also create over 250 jobs during a five-year construction programme and more than 15 long term local jobs when complete.
Developers Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables hope the proposed scheme will become a catalyst for industrial regeneration in the region. They have met with the UK Government to discuss the need for a stable revenue mechanism that will encourage investment.
Alan Baker, managing director of 2020 Renewables, said: “Pumped storage brings considerable benefits to the country’s energy system. Major pumped storage schemes already exist in Scotland – for example at Foyers and Cruachan – but no new projects have been built in over 30 years.
“The challenge is in finding the package of support measures which will unlock private investment in the project. We have been working with the UK and Scottish governments and others to find a way to make this work. A successful project will be a major driver of economic activity and growth across the region.”
John Glen, chief executive officer of Buccleuch, said: “For five years we have been working closely with the local community and Hargreaves Surface Mining to restore and transform the site. Our vision is to create an energy park that will support local jobs and deliver major new investment in Dumfries and Galloway, and that has taken a step forward today.”
The Glenmuckloch site already hosts two community-owned wind turbines, and Buccleuch subsidiary, Glenmuckloch Renewable Energy Limited, recently received planning permission from Dumfries and Galloway Council to build eight 3.2 MW turbines.
Local MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale Scotland David Mundell said: ”This is a very welcome announcement for the communities of Upper Nithsdale where I am always pushing for investment to help boost the local economy. Buccleuch and 2020’s plans for a major development will help sustain jobs in the region and I am very excited to see how the project progresses.
“I hope this scheme can bring significant long-term energy benefits to Upper Nithsdale and I will work to ensure the continuing discussions with the UK Government can help to secure the scheme’s long-term future.”
Councillor Colin Smyth, chairman of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, said: “As part of our commitment to build the local economy, our council has identified Upper Nithsdale as a key regeneration area where we want to encourage investment that will create jobs. This development does just that by offering exciting job opportunities, which is so important for Upper Nithsdale. It also delivers a sustainable and environmentally friendly energy solution so it’s a win, win situation for the area.”