Publication - Statistics

Scottish vacant and derelict land survey 2016

Published: 25 Apr 2017

Data collection publication undertaken to establish the extent and state of vacant and derelict land in Scotland.

Scottish vacant and derelict land survey 2016
3 Former Surface Coal Mines

3 Former Surface Coal Mines

This section provides an overview of how former surface coal mines have been treated in the Survey results for the period 2014 to 2016.

A number of opencast coal mining sites were affected by the liquidation of Scottish Coal and ATH Resources in 2013 across sites in East Ayrshire, Fife and South Lanarkshire. Sites in East Ayrshire were affected by a shortfall in restoration bonds that meant the level of financial guarantees fell short of the amount of money required to return all the land to its original condition.

Analysis carried out by East Ayrshire Council throughout the course of 2015 identified a total of 2,217 hectares of former surface coal mines in East Ayrshire that were considered to be derelict, and these sites were included in last year's 2015 SVDLS publication for both the years 2014 and 2015 (2014 figures being revised on those previously published).

For the 2016 Survey, East Ayrshire Council have updated their analysis which has reduced the total area of former surface coal mines by 93 hectares (4%) to stand at 2,124 hectares.

The East Ayrshire Council analysis is based on the following principles for recording former surface coal mines, which were agreed following discussions between Scottish Government representatives and East Ayrshire, Fife, North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils:

  • Large areas have been broken down into smaller areas to distinguish between parcels of land that still need to be restored to their original condition, parcels that are unworked and parcels derelict or naturalised.
  • Areas of abandoned sites where the only element of activity is the maintenance of the site for health and safety reasons have been considered derelict.
  • Areas which have been subject to partial restoration which are below the standard expected within the original planning permissions, but which are not considered to be of such poor quality as they would present a significant health and safety danger or environmental risk, are not considered derelict. Only areas of land identified as being unsafe or of very poor environmental quality and requiring further remediation have been recorded as derelict.
  • Any former compounds, coal wash areas or haul routes that are still being used for another operational site have not been considered derelict.

Table A below compares 2015 and 2016 data for East Ayrshire surface coal mines. The change between 2015 and 2016 has been the naturalisation of part of the Dunstonhill site (93 hectares). The East Ayrshire Council analysis for 2016 has broken the Dunstonhill site down into areas to distinguish between remaining areas of dereliction from other areas that, while in some instances were below the expected standard of restoration, are no longer of very poor environmental quality or comprise a significant health and safety or environmental risk. Although the site is still not publically accessible and restoration is still underway, 93 hectares of land has been recorded as being naturalised as at April 2016 and therefore is no longer classified as derelict. This has included locations where gradients had been achieved and soils had been laid, as well as the water body area given that all re-grading work had been done. These areas are therefore considered no longer a risk to health and safety or the environment and can be considered as naturalised land.

Table A: Former Surface Coal Mines in East Ayrshire

Data submitted in 2015 - based on detailed categorisation of each site

Data included in the 2015 SVDLS publication totals (for both 2014 and 2015 survey years)
Data submitted in 2016 - based on detailed categorisation of each site

Data included in the 2016 SVDLS publication totals
Site Name Size (Hectares) Site Name Size (hectares)
Benbain Remainder 194 Benbain Remainder 194
Benbain Remainder North 138 Benbain Remainder North 138
Chalmerston 41 Chalmerston 41
Chalmerston Backfill 23 Chalmerston Backfill 23
Chalmerston Compound 10 Chalmerston Compound 10
Chalmerston Extraction 19 Chalmerston Extraction 19
Chalmerston Overburden 8 Chalmerston Overburden 8
Chalmerston Processing 11 Chalmerston Processing 11
Chalmerston North 110 Chalmerston North 110
Dalfad 164 Dalfad 164
Darnconner 44 Darnconner 44
Galawhistle 507 Galawhistle 507
Garleffan 1&2 135 Garleffan 1&2 135
Garleffan South 4 Garleffan South 4
Grievehill 122 Grievehill 122
Piperhill 133 Piperhill 133
Powharnal 246 Powharnal 246
Skares Area D 57 Skares Area D 57
Skares 31 Skares 31
Skares Earthworks 4 Skares Earthworks 4
Skares Extraction 4 Skares Extraction 4
Skares Muir Farm 4 Skares Muir Farm 4
Skares Processing 11 Skares Processing 11
    Dunstonhill (Patna) 80
    Dunstonhill (Burnfoothill) 21
    Dunstonhill (Lethan Hill) 3
Dunstonhill (Subtotal) 197 Dunstonhill (Subtotal) 104
Overall Total 2,217   2,124



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