Publication - Advice and guidance

Planning Advice Note 64: reclamation of surface mineral workings

Published: 13 Jan 2003

Planning Advice Note (PAN) 64 provides advice to help planning authorities and operators improve the reclamation of surface mineral workings.

59 page PDF

831.6 kB

59 page PDF

831.6 kB

Planning Advice Note 64: reclamation of surface mineral workings
PAN 64: Reclamation of Surface Mineral Workings

59 page PDF

831.6 kB

PAN 64: Reclamation of Surface Mineral Workings


Improvements in wastewater processing technologies in recent years have helped the development of biosolid products suitable for use in land reclamation. Biosolids were used to reclaim a site at Drumbow in North Lanarkshire where the opencast coal operator abandoned the site before completing restoration and aftercare works. The site was left with badly compacted soils that were low in organic and nutrient content. Planning permission was granted for the creation of an area of woodland, wetland and pathways. Material from an inert bing was used to create a suitable landform and biosolids and canal dredgings were used to improve the soil structure and nutrient content to enable vegetation growth. The funds raised by using these waste materials enabled the development to proceed. The scheme was developed through a partnership approach between Central Scotland Countryside Trust (CSCT), Forestry Enterprise, Forestry Commission, Scottish Enterprise Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council and Portcullis Developments.

before reclamation after reclamation
Before reclamation After reclamation


Damside opencast coal site in North Lanarkshire extends for 405 hectares. It was previously rough grazing with some dereliction due to the activities of small mines. Restoration has returned the site to improved grazing and forestry afteruses. This has been achieved with the help of specialist advice obtained by the mineral operator. They appointed a reclamation consultant to work on creating a landform fit for woodland and in the preparation of an aftercare scheme. CSCT was employed to design the woodland areas, obtain a woodland grant from the Forestry Commission and manage the woodland during the 5 year aftercare period. Areas returned to grazing were similarly managed by Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). They advised on suitable agricultural contractors, drew up specifications for necessary work, assessed the need for fertiliser application and prepared the annual report.


The Meadowhill opencast site is situated east of Alloa, and covers 59 hectares. Land near the site and controlled by the mineral operator includes the Parklands Muir Wildlife Site. The indicative restoration plan submitted with the planning application was not suitable and did not fulfil the site's restoration potential. A planning condition therefore required a revised restoration plan. Clackmannanshire Council, SNH and SWT worked closely with the operator's landscape architect in preparing the restoration proposals, particularly on the creation of new wetland areas. A training session was held for the machine driver to ensure wetland area excavations maximised the ecological benefits. Progressive restoration helped mitigate wildlife displacement and habitat loss. Works to improve Parklands Muir Wildlife Site, which was outwith the operational site boundary but within the operator's control, took place in the first year of operations to provide alternative habitat from the onset.

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During creation of the wetland area Established wetland area


At House of Water opencast coal site in East Ayrshire diversion of the River Nith was carried out in order to extract coal from an area under the existing riverbed. At this location the River Nith is a relatively small upland burn. The planning authority attached a condition to the consent which required the operator to submit full details of the proposed diversion scheme within 12 months of the consent. This scheme was made part of a planning agreement. A Technical Support Group consisting of all relevant organisations was set up and regular meetings took place to discuss the project. The 3 kilometre river diversion was designed to replicate the natural meandering pattern of the existing stream. A floodbank and groundwater barrier was constructed to protect the mineral working area from flooding or ground water intrusion. The new channel is a permanent diversion, but following completion of coal extraction, the floodbank will be breached and floodplain storage returned. The RSPB is working with the operator to ensure that flood storage benefits will be combined with habitat enhancement, in accord with Ayrshire LBAP. The diversion has provided benefits in term of flood storage, water quality and habitat creation to encourage wildlife.

Diverted River Nith


Glensanda is Scotland's largest hardrock quarry, and is situated on the banks of Loch Linnhe, near Oban. It can operate 24 hours a day and has the capacity to produce 15 million tonnes of crushed aggregate per annum. The quarry is divided into 2 distinct operational areas. The crushed stone is transferred from the extraction area on the plateau of Meall Mhuic Artair down a shaft of 300 metres and through a tunnel 1860 metres long to the processing, storage and ship-loading facility on the coast.

The restoration plan is to integrate the production benches with the surrounding hillside. The site is being progressively restored starting with the more visible upper benches. Rock is blasted down to form screes which are left at the natural angle of repose. Peat is stripped and either used directly in restoration or stored for future use. It is pressed into the rock face or screes to help it adhere and prevent it from being washed off. Ultimately the site will simulate the surrounding landscape and be returned to moorland. A potential afteruse is to use the shaft to develop a pump storage hydroelectric scheme.

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Restoration blasting Images showing the production benches being integrated with the surrounding landscape

Birnie Loch and Gladdon Lochs near Collessie in Fife are a good example of a local organisation, in this case Fife Council, taking over the aftercare of sites with the active co-operation of the original operator. In the case of Birnie Loch, when permission for sand and gravel extraction was granted in 1982, the intention was to reclaim the site to agriculture. However, when workings began it quickly became apparent that there were extensive mineral deposits below the water table and that full exploitation of these would produce a water area rather than an area of dry land. Planning permission was changed in 1986 to allow for restoration to a loch with recreational and nature conservation afteruses. This site shows the need for flexibility in considering reclamation proposals. The progressive restoration was secured using planning conditions and a planning agreement. The end product is a loch with several islands, landscaped and tree planted margins, car parking, picnic areas and a footpath around the loch. Birnie Loch is now a Local Nature Reserve, regionally important for waterfowl and has won a number of awards (see PAN 60 case study 12).


Ratho Quarry, located to the west of Edinburgh, was first recorded on a map of 1852 and working of the quarry for hardrock ceased around the start of the 20th century. The quarry forms a huge amphitheatre, 130 metres across and 20 metres deep. Edinburgh City Council granted planning permission in 1997 to Ratho Quarry Company Limited for converting the redundant quarry toThe Adventure Centre - Ratho, incorporating the National Rock Climbing Centre of Scotland. The development has been given support by the Sports Lottery Fund and Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothians.

The Adventure Centre, opening early 2003, will have the largest indoor climbing arena in the world which will be used for national and international climbing competitions, as well as other sporting and music events. The quarry walls have been incorporated into the centre to provide an authentic indoor climbing experience. The site works involved the removal of 250,000 tonnes of blast material from the oldest section of the quarry which was back-filled during the later stages of mineral working. Most of this stone is being reused for dry stonewalling and within the building itself. Further information can be found at