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One man's trash is another's treasure

Charlotte Maclean explains how a potentially expensive problem for an urban-fringe estate has been turned to advantage.

There are many positives for an estate with a rural but urban fringe location. 

There are also potentially alarming negatives for the landowner – though nothing that can’t be put right with the help of an experienced land agent. 

Such is the case for Caledonian Estate, north of Glasgow, which stretches from the outskirts of Kirkintilloch in the east to Milngavie in the west, and Bishopbriggs in the south to Lennoxtown in the north.  

When Galbraith was appointed to take over the estate management one of the potentially high-risk attributes identified was an old landfill site next to one of the estate farms. It had been operated by a company which had gone out of business. They had taken in more material than their landfill licence allowed, which meant they were in contravention of both their planning consent and SEPA licencing. SEPA were putting pressure on the estate to have the site reinstated to an acceptable condition, which came with an eye watering price tag. 

As a more palatable alternative to the estate undertaking the restoration themselves, Galbraith worked closely with a local construction firm to secure a new planning consent, SEPA licence, and agreed lease terms. This meant that the firm could operate the site, recycle much of the old material which had been deposited there, bring in other material from their construction sites elsewhere, and cap off and restore the landfill site afterwards. 

The complexity of the issue meant this process took many years to get through all the necessary layers of consents and lease negotiations, but ultimately the site became operational once more in late 2017. Caledonian Estate appointed a specialist landfill engineer to monitor the operation and ensure that the specialised terms of the SEPA licence and planning consent were being adhered to.  

Through the feedback from these inspections, the estate is confident that the site is now being very well run, and that at the end of the lease they will be given back a properly landscaped site, which can safely be grazed by livestock. 

This is great news for all stakeholders. First, the estate has escaped a potentially astronomical bill to restore the site itself and, through Galbraith’s advice, will achieve restoration of the site at minimal cost. 

Second, through the lease, the construction firm has acquired material deposited on site by the previous operators, which can be broken up and recycled for use as base material on their other construction sites.  By operating the site itself, it has a lower-cost alternative for disposal of waste material from its other sites, compared to expensive disposal via a third-party landfill site. 

Third, local residents will no longer have to look out over the eyesore of the un-capped site holding large quantities of waste rubble, but will instead ultimately look out over a well-landscaped vista of rolling grassland. 

Finally, the wider environment and local wildlife will ultimately benefit from the site being cleaned up and properly capped. 

The moral of the story? Using managing agents who can come up with unconventional solutions, and have the patience to persevere through difficult circumstances to achieve an optimal solution can pay dividends in the long run.