In the Scottish Heartlands – midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow – sits Polkemmet, a 470 hectare former coalmine that is now the site of one of the country’s leading regeneration schemes. Described by land owner Ecosse Regeneration’s project manager, Alex Muirhead, as “one of the most contaminated sites in Scotland”, Polkemmet’s massive transformation includes the creation of two Championship golf courses (one to Ryder Cup standard), leisure facilities and 5,000 residential houses.
Long before the regeneration scheme began, however, the Polkemmet site was largely regarded as an eyesore by the local community. Almost four million cubic metres of combustible colliery waste, mostly made up of sandstone, waste coal, mud and shale, littered the landscape and gave off foul ‘rotting egg’ odours when combustion took place. It was in dire need of regeneration, and Ecosse Regeneration stepped in two decades after the mine closed
in 1986 in order to begin its transformation.