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Former Scottish Steelworks Set to Become Landmark Housing Development

Ravenscraig Steelworks stood on the site in North Lanarkshire from 1957 until 1992 when it was closed down and demolished. The 450 ha site lay disused until work began on the new town of Ravenscraig in 2007.

The project is set to revitalise one of Scotland's industrial heartlands, with 3,500 new homes being built. Development is now underway on 162 ha of the site, with the remainder earmarked as open community parkland areas for residents and wildlife.

The development is being undertaken by Ravenscraig Ltd, a partnership between Wilson Bowden Developments Ltd, Scottish Enterprise and Corus Plc, with Turner & Townsend providing project and cost management for the current Phase one of the development.

Due to the site’s former use as a steelworks, there was insufficient topsoil available to create and landscape the wildlife corridors and extensive structure planting required. However, the site did contain a number of potential soil forming materials including steel furnace slag and glacial drift material which could be combined with quality BSI PAS 100 compost to produce a soil capable of sustaining plant growth.

WRAP is currently working with Ravenscraig Ltd to identify suitable areas for the use of quality compost on the site. To date, approximately 3,600 tonnes of BSI PAS 100 compost, sourced from Scottish Water, has been used to create different soils and four trial areas have been set up to gauge the optimum ratio mix of materials in which to grow woodland.

Iris Oestreicher, Project Landscape Architect for Scott Wilson explained:

“The reason we chose to get involved in WRAP’s trailblazer programme and use quality compost in the area’s regeneration is because we were looking for a way to re-use the site’s existing materials.

“The site was covered in two different types of slag (blast and steel furnace), and disposing of it would have been expensive and not ecologically sound. Through blending the steel furnace slag with clay subsoil and BSI PAS 100 compost we have produced a moderately alkaline soil that can be used as an effective growing medium. The retained alkalinity, mitigated to acceptable levels by the compost, prevents excessive leachate forming when water passes through the steel furnace slag.”

Pilot projects at other sites conducted in conjunction with WRAP which look at the benefits of using quality compost as a soil improver, have shown significant improvement in both cost efficiencies and the quality of the soils. In some cases, costs have been reduced by over 50 per cent*. The technical benefits of using BSI PAS 100 compost to improve soil conditions include improvements in:

  • nutrient and organic matter content;
  • soil structure; and
  • water retention capacity.

The BSI PAS 100 certification means that the compost, which is produced from source segregated garden waste such as grass cuttings, prunings and leaves, has been manufactured to a high quality, and is also safe, reliable and consistent.

Paul Mathers, WRAP’s Programme Manager – Landscape and Regeneration, said: “Previous trials have shown that using locally sourced quality compost as a soil improver, not only saves on transportation and landfill costs; it also produces a high quality, fertile soil for sustainable landscaping.

“It is also hoped that using compost enriched soils could bring real benefits to the UK house building industry. Traditionally, on site mineral resources (such as trench arisings and subsoils) are often not considered as appropriate input materials. Yet this sustainable approach to soil manufacturing reduces the pressure on limited reserves of natural topsoils.”

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