Mining firm dumps human waste plans

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People power has led to the dropping of a plan to use human waste during the restoration of the former Dalquhandy opencast mine near Coalburn.

The Gazette reported last week how the land’s owner, mining company Hargreaves, wanted to use sewage to encourage plant growth on the currently-barren terrain of what was once the largest surface mine in western Europe

The company, arguing that the spreading of the waste would be safe, economical and effective, put the proposal to a public consultation meeting three weeks ago.

Now, due to the strength of opposition to the scheme voiced at that meeting, Hargreaves has announced it is abandoning it.

A company representative has written to local councillors saying: “Having discussed the feedback from the meeting, we will not to seek to use untreated sewage sludges to help re-establish soils on the Dalquhandy site.

“Our soils team had already made that decision having listened to the feedback from the meeting.

“They would not choose to implement such a proposal against such strong feedback from the community.

“Although it is very difficult to find economic solutions, the team will continue to make efforts to develop or look for other options around different, non-raw sewage sludge compost materials in an effort to improve the condition of the site.

“If any alternative options can be identified, we can also confirm that the soils team will not commence without consulting again with, and gaining buy-in from, the community stakeholders.”

The company continued to defend considering use of human waste, insisting it had already been successfully used in the reclamation of another, nearby opencast mine at Broken Cross near Douglas.

The company spokesperson said: “While it cannot be argued that such materials do not produce odours, if properly blended and worked in, the material can deliver the bulkage of organic material to start off the process towards long term soils re-establishment.

“The team have developed proper processes to handle and blend the material which are a far cry from the uncontrolled dumping and dispersal that took place circa 10 years ago and which, rightly, attracted widespread criticism.

“The work our team have done at Broken Cross does provide an indication of the long-term benefits that can be achieved.”

The decision has received a warm welcome locally, as has Hargreaves’ promise to continue public consulation on alternative solutions.