Planned Upper Nithsdale hydro power installation to come under Scottish Ministers’ scrutiny

A proposed new hydropower plant at Glenmuckloch in Upper Nithsdale is under the control of the Scottish Ministers.

Buccleuch Estates hopes to create a pumped storage system that can generate up to 400 MW of electricity during times of peak demand.

They want to use the disused coal mine near Kirkconnel, which has undergone restoration work in collaboration with Hargreaves Surface Mining.

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The Durham-based operator announced last year that it would shut down all remaining mining operations due to the “limited future” of coal mining in the UK.

Buccleuch has earmarked the project for “large financial investments”.

A statement on Buccleuch’s website said: “Pumped storage developments offset fluctuating demand for electricity with the disruption of some types of generation and work by moving water from a higher body of water to a lower body of water and passing it through a turbine to generate electricity .

“Then the water is pumped uphill again and stored in the upper basin until more electricity is needed.”

It adds, “Energy is an important part of the future of Buccleuch and we will continue to explore new power generation opportunities and economic opportunities across all of our businesses in the years to come.”

Buccleuch had also previously submitted a controversial offer to build a wind farm on a site in North Lowther.

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Proposals for a 35-turbine operation near Wanlockhead, near the northern ridge of the scenic Mennock Pass, submitted in 2017, had to be scaled back due to resistance.

A legal dispute over the plan, which was promoted by the German company BayWa.re for renewable energies, is still ongoing, although Buccleuch Estates no longer plays a role in the process.

It is estimated that the construction of the new hydropower plant could create 250 jobs over a five-year period and, when completed, could create around 15 permanent positions.

Proposals for the offer, which was approved by the Scottish Government in 2018, have now been submitted to Scottish Ministers for consideration.

The Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit has set a deadline for submitting comments on the offer.