EXCLUSIVE by Scottish Energy News
Former open-cast coal miner Hargreaves Services plc has secured planning permission for a ‘renewable energy’ park at the site of one of its former coal mines in Fife.
In addition, the Durham-based company has also applied for permission to build a new gas-fired power station at the former Westfield open-cast mine.
In documents submitted as part of the planning application, Hargreaves said the natural gas engines ‘are more environmentally friendly than fuel oils’ and would only run for short periods of time.
It is claimed, the plant would run on natural gas, and be capable of generating up to 19.96 megawatts of energy – enough to power thousands of homes.
The plant would also offer energy security for peak times of demand as well as support for existing renewable energy outputs at the site.
But local Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) has criticised the latest application.
He said: “Local councillors were quite rightly excited by the prospect of regenerating the Westfield site, with recycling facilities and a solar energy farm at the heart of the masterplan they voted through
“But the local community deserves to be part of the clean, green energy revolution taking place and not have yet more fossil fuel industry dumped on their doorsteps.”
Hargreaves Services – which acquired the rump of the Scottish Coal mining industry five years ago – is now concentrating on exploiting some 18,000 acres of legacy brownfield land (including the Westfield site) as a property developer.
At one time Westfield was one of the largest opencast coal mine sites in the UK, with coal extraction ceasing in 1998. Hargreaves acquired the site in 2012 and is ‘committed to finding a solution for Westfield’
Gordon Banham, Chief Executive, said: “Unlike previous owners, we are not focused solely on coal production and have identified Westfield as a key development site that with the proper investment can take advantage of the site’s location, scale and unique features to create a visionary and innovative regeneration and development project at Westfield.
“In bringing forward this Masterplan, we are committed to open and widespread consultation. The purpose of this is to ensure that the local community and stakeholders have the opportunity to both comment and help shape the Masterplan.”
Hargreaves has recently won planning permission to build 1,600 new homes on its former open-cast mine at Blindwells in East Lothian.
And it has enlisted the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Group to help develop the energy-from-waste project at Earls Gate Park in Grangemouth, where Hargreaves also plans to build a new CHP (Combined heat and power) plant on-site.
Hargreaves aims to make up to £50 million in profit from developing its former low-grade industrial and open-cast coal property by building new residential property.
And last month, it set up Brockwell Energy to look at new investment prospects in renewable energy.
Banham added: “The successful spin-off of the Brockwell Energy business is closely tied to the ongoing development of the Earl’s Gate project at Grangemouth, in which the Green Investment Group has a 50% equity stake.
“Our respective teams are working well together and a successful and timely financial close on the Earl’s Gate project will greatly assist the Group and Brockwell Energy in furthering our ambitions and spin-off
“Plans for our 400MW portfolio of potential onshore wind schemes have also progressed, including an agreement of property options to enable a single 300MW scheme, the construction of which would deliver significant environmental restoration benefits. It is believed that this will be the largest single scheme in the UK.”
13 Nov 2017