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Feasibility Report of Fortissat Community Minewater Geothermal Energy District Heating Network

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Chapter 2: Environmental Baseline

2.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the baseline environmental information in and around the James Hutton Institute's (JHI) Hartwood Home Farm, with the 5km study area from the site centre roughly equivalent to the Fortissat ward of North Lanarkshire. It provides the physical and environmental context for the potential minewater geothermal system and district heating network (DHN) in this area.

2.2 Site

2.2.1 Location

Hartwood Home Farm extends over the fields surrounding the village of Hartwood in North Lanarkshire. The village currently comprises approximately 85 houses, and is served by Hartwood railway station. A location plan is shown in Drawing 1.1.

Hartwood lies midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow and close to the M8. It is on a railway line connecting Edinburgh and Glasgow. It is close to the town of Shotts, and the area includes other villages and smaller settlements, including Allanton and Salsburgh. The area is typical of a former coal mining area with its associated social and economic deprivation.

Kingshill Colliery No. 1 is located to the south of Allanton. The village comprises approximately 567 houses, of which approximately 40% are council owned. There is also a small primary school, community centre, take-away and shop.

2.2.2 Land Ownership and Control

Land ownership and control is an important consideration influencing the location of potential infrastructure on site, connection routes and extent of the DHN, and construction and operational access to site.

The land under the control of JHI extends to approximately 348.6 hectares. It is rented by JHI on a long lease from Scottish Government until 2070.

Part of the site is under option to ABO Wind for sub-lease as part of its proposals for Hartwood Wind Farm (planning application reference 14/01699/FUL, decision pending). The lease option agreement includes a 500m wind protection zone with development restrictions stating that no structure of greater than 4m in height can be constructed. This is not anticipated to represent a development constraint for a geothermal DHN, but is worth being aware of in the location and design of the energy centre (in the event that the wind farm is granted consent).

There are a number of other institutions owning land neighbouring Hartwood Home Farm, including Forestry Commission Scotland, the National Health Service Scotland, and the Scottish Prisons Service. Network Rail owns the railway line and rail infrastructure which bisects the farm and Hartwood Village. North Lanarkshire Council (NLC) departments are also major landowners, with the Roads and Transportation Service owning the roads and verges in the local area, the Council's Greenspace Development (Regeneration and Environment Services) owning the Kingshill Local Nature Reserve to the south of Allanton, and Housing and Social Work Service owning areas of Council housing within the surrounding settlements as shown in Drawing 1.2.

2.2.3 Land Use and Land Cover

Hartwood Home Farm is located on the single largest soil class in Scotland (Rowanhill Series) which occurs widely over Carboniferous rocks in central Scotland. This soil series is generally associated with poor drainage, and is mostly suitable for permanent pasture but in some places there is potential for arable production. It has also been recognised as a farm highly suitable for research as it represents a substantial category of land in Scotland and therefore necessarily has relevance in searching for more sustainable land use futures, particularly on wet upland soils under predominantly grassland systems. There is currently c. 45 ha of woodland in the form of shelterbelts, with a need to consider the regeneration of these.

Kingshill LNR extends to 112.5ha, and contains meadows, woodlands and ponds established as part of the reclamation of derelict land associated with the former colliery. While the site is designated for its nature conservation interest and has two waymarked trails, there are also ongoing legacy issues in relation to the former coal mine, in particular in relation to surface discharge of minewater. Although one main discharge passes through a passive treatment system, comprising aeration cascade, settlement lagoon and wetland 'polishing ponds', there are other discharges within the area which require diversion from Allanton via cut-off drainage ditches on the south side of the village.

Within the wider study area, the land use is predominantly a mix of farmland, commercial forestry plantation and settlement. There are areas of former opencast mining, and evidence of past mining operations, which influence the character of the landscape.

2.2.4 Hydrology

Hartwood Home Farm contains a network of small burns as shown in Drawing 2.1, some of which are potentially prone to flooding, as indicated by SEPA's Flood map, especially those to the South of Hartwood Village on or to the south of the site boundary, along the South Calder Water, and along the Curry Burn, between the east of the site and Shotts. This potential flood risk, combined with general poor drainage of the soil may require a flood risk assessment, ground condition surveys and drainage strategy as part of preparing supporting information for planning and designing the minewater geothermal DHN.

Understanding the local hydrology is of particular relevance to obtaining CAR Licence from SEPA for the borehole(s), and this requires a water features survey for a radius of 1200m from the location of the borehole(s). This can largely be undertaken from desk-based sources, but does require a walkover survey to identify general wetland types. As two potential borehole designs involving different borehole location(s) are singled out in this feasibility study, a single preferred location has not been finalised, and the resulting study area is a substantial area for a walkover, which has not been undertaken to date.

However, a single day walkover was undertaken in the southern part of Hartwood Home Farm, which reflects the most likely location for a borehole within the JHI land ownership, and that most of the semi-natural habitats of interest are likely to occur (given the presence of the South Calder Water). The main findings from this survey, undertaken by Cameron Ecology (18th September, 2015) comprised:

  • Typically of a farm in this area, the vast majority of the area is agriculturally improved grassland. In the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) these come out as MG6 or MG7. These are not really semi-natural habitats because they are a direct result of being sown as a seed mix with agricultural rye-grass cultivars. Some areas were ploughed grasslands at the time of the survey, so these are simply recorded as 'ploughed'.
  • Potential GWDTE NVC communities recorded include:

Marshy Grassland

  • M23a - Juncus acutiflorus rush-pasture - there's only a small amount of this, mostly around the M27 tall herb fen (see below)
  • M23b - Juncus effusus rush pasture - one or two areas with this. This is a common and widespread vegetation type, more commonly thought to occur as a result of impeded surface drainage than groundwater.
  • MG10a - Holcus lanatus - Jucus effusus rush pasture - one of the fields coded as this is shown as having been ploughed on the aerial photo, despite the photo being fairly recent. It's also more or less on the top of a hill. This is pretty strong evidence that in this case MG10-type vegetation is a result of impeded surface drainage (clay soil) rather than groundwater as such. Most of the other areas of this vegetation community are wet bits of otherwise improved fields and are likely to have a similar origin.

Fen

  • M27a - Filipendula ulmaria - Angelica sylvestris tall herb fen. In the context of Lanarkshire these are quite attractive areas. They have an herb-rich form of M23a as a fringe around them. Parts of this area were quite dry at the time of the survey. Given its location immediately adjacent to the watercourse and in the bend of a meander it is possible that periodic surface water inundation sustains this vegetation.

Neutral Grassland

  • MG9 - Deschampsia cespitosa occurs in the watercourse valley sides. This is not normally considered an ecologically valuable vegetation type. It occurs in the valley floor in a couple of places.
  • Other Habitats - Various other habitats have been recorded, none of these are especially notable - plantation woodland, bracken, etc. MG1 grassland is a neutral grassland type but isn't on the list of potentially groundwater dependent communities - there are various places where this occurs, again mostly in the valley of the South Calder Water.

The hydrology at Kingshill is complex, and influenced by the minewater chemistry, with an existing passive minewater treatment system and areas of minewater resurgence at surface. These are discussed in more detail in Chapter 3 on Geothermal Supply and Technical Appendix A3.2.

2.3 Surrounding Context

2.3.1 Planning Designations

The village of Hartwood is designated as HCF1A - Protecting Residential Amenity and Community Facilities - Residential Areas on the Proposals Map of the North Lanarkshire Local Plan (NLLP). The surrounding countryside, including Hartwood Home Farm, is designated as NBE 3B - Assessing Development in the Rural Investment Area. The site and its surrounding context, in relation to the Local Plan Proposals Map, is shown in Drawing 2.2.

The location of the site within the Rural Investment Area (RIA), means that all planning applications would be subject to the criteria of NLLP policy NBE 3B - Assessing Development in the Rural Investment Area, which states: "The Council will protect the character and promote development in the Green Belt and the Rural Investment Area by restricting development to acceptable types and operating assessment criteria." The criteria are listed in full in the policy.

2.3.2 Natural Heritage Designations

A review of environmental designated sites from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) information services has confirmed that there are no environmental designations within the land ownership boundary. The review included the following designated sites:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA)
  • Ramsar
  • National Scenic Areas (NSA)
  • National Nature Reserves (NNR)
  • National Parks
  • Local Nature Reserves (LNR)

The closest designations to the site comprise:

  • Kingshill LNR, approximately 1.5km S of the farm complex, on the S side of Allanton;
  • Hassockrigg and North Shotts Moss SSSI, a raised bog approximately 2.75km NE of the farm complex, on the E side of Shotts;
  • North Shotts Moss SAC, comprising a degraded and active raised bog approximately 2.75km NE of the farm complex, on the E side of Shotts;
  • Braedale Hill LNR, approximately 3.5km SE of the farm complex, on the S side of Newmains;
  • Greenhead Moss and Perchy Pond LNR, approximately 6km SE of the farm complex, just under 5km from the site boundary, on the SE side of Wishaw.

Natural Heritage designations within 5km of the site are shown in Drawing 2.3.

In addition to the above listed designations, there are a number of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation, designated in the Local Plan (as Natural Environment Areas) and shown in Drawing 2.2. These locally designated sites contain significant plants, animals or wildlife habitats, identified for protection and enhancement in the North Lanarkshire Biodiversity Action Plan.

2.3.3 Cultural Heritage Designations

A review of cultural heritage designated sites included the following designated sites:

  • Listed Buildings
  • Canmore
  • Historic Environment Record (HER)
  • Scheduled Monuments (SM)
  • Gardens & Designed Landscapes (GDL)
  • Conservation Areas
  • Inventory Battlefields
  • World Heritage Sites

There is one site of national importance - an Inventory listed Garden and Designed Landscape, Allanton, dating from the late 18th and early 19th century, valued as outstanding as a work of art and for its historical association, and high for its scenic value.

There are three sites of local value, in the form of Category C listed buildings within ~1km of the site, comprising:

  • Hartwood Hospital, central administration block, flanking villa wards and attached service range to rear
  • Hartwood Hospital, Nurses Home
  • Allanton Mill

There are further sites of local interest. The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) on its "Canmore" database includes a number of sites (listings including site types described variously as tramway, colliery, rig and furrow, spoilheap, quarry reservoir, farmstead and building). There are a number of other Canmore listings in the local area.

Cultural Heritage designations within 5km of the site are shown in Drawing 2.4.

2.3.4 Landscape Character

Hartwood Home Farm is located within an area characterised as Plateau Farmland in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Landscape Character Assessment (SNH Review no. 116, 1999), as shown in Drawing 2.5. This landscape occurs on the lower slopes of all the Plateau Moorland areas encircling Glasgow and its conurbation. Plateau Farmlands are characterised by their transitional location between the sheltered landscapes of Rolling Farmlands and Broad Valley Lowland, and exposed uplands and moorlands.

The key characteristics, features and qualities of this landscape type are:

  • Extensive, gently undulating landform;
  • Dominance of pastoral farming, but with some mosses surviving;
  • Limited and declining tree cover;
  • Visually prominent settlements and activities such as mineral working;
  • The rural character of the Plateau Farmland has suffered as tree cover has declined and the visual influence of settlements, transport infrastructure and mineral working has increased.

2.3.5 Settlement Context

As noted, Hartwood Home Farm is located in the fields surrounding the village of Hartwood. The village currently comprises approximately 85 houses, and is served by Hartwood railway station.

The remains of Hartwood Hospital (to the W of the village) and Hartwoodhill Hospital (to the east of the village), are now derelict, and are set within a mature landscape framework. The sites are owned by NHS Scotland, and are being marketed for sale by Rydens LLP, and promoted for housing through the Local Development Plan consultation process.

2.3.6 Transportation Network

Hartwood Home Farm is bisected by a railway line connecting Edinburgh to Glasgow. There is a railway station in Hartwood Village. The village is accessible via the 'C' class road network.

The M8 passes between on an east-west axis approximately 2 and 3km from the site's northern boundary. Connections to the M8 are provided to the west by the A73; and to the east by the B717/B7057, both on a north-south axis. The A71 passes within 500m of the site's southern boundary.

2.4 Proposed Development

2.4.1 Hartwood Wind Farm

Hartwood Wind Farm is a proposal for 7 wind turbines with a maximum height to blade tip (HTT) of 126.5m, and ancillary infrastructure including electrical control building, crane pads, access tracks and associated fencing. It is located partly on Hartwood Home Farm and partly on land owned by Forestry Commission Scotland to the north.

The proposal was submitted to North Lanarkshire Council on 25 August 2014 (application reference 14/01699/FUL) and is currently pending consideration.

2.4.2 Potential New Housing

The remains of Hartwood Hospital (to the W of the village) and Hartwoodhill Hospital (to the E of the village, are now derelict, and are set within a mature landscape framework. Both sites were promoted at the Call for Sites stage of the emerging Local Development Plan as potential housing / mixed use sites by Ryden LLP on behalf of the NHS Lanarkshire (Sep 2013). Both sites are currently being marketed for sale by Rydens LLP (February 2016).