Until the closure of its central colliery in 1983, the area of Kinneil in east central Scotland had spent almost 200 years as a heavy industry heartland.
© Tom Sargent, geograph.org.uk
Decades on, the foreshore could become one of the most promising attractions for nature lovers in the region under plans to formally recognise the stretch between Bo’ness harbour, on the former site of the colliery, and Snab Lane in the west.
“Just over 30 years ago this site looked very different,” says local councillor Adrian Mahoney.
“It was dominated by the massive Kinneil Colliery complex and other industrial buildings. The closure of the pit was a huge blow to the local community.
“The one positive thing to come out of this has been the way the colliery site, and the surrounding area, has been transformed into a natural parkland, popular with cyclists, bird-watchers and walkers.”
Falkirk Council will enter talks with Scottish National Heritage with a view to winning Local Nature Reserve status.
“Already some local maps describe the site as a ‘nature reserve’,” points out Mahoney.
“But it would be good to achieve official status for the area, and hopefully attract new levels of funding into the site.”
The Friends of Kinneil – a hard-working charity which does much to look after the land – are hopeful agreement could be reached by the summer, affording better protection to the ecosystem of plants and wildlife.
“Already a lot has been achieved on the Foreshore, but there’s lots more we can do,” says the group’s Peter Mole. An urban woodlands initiative gave them the money to carry out environmental improvements in 2006, and since a public meeting in 2010 – when the group and council agreed to manage the Foreshore and promote the neighbouring Kinneil Estate – the mudflats and “island” have won Special Protection status for their importance to seabirds and conservation.
“I understand that once a site has local nature reserve status it will be eligible for grants from SNH for a variety of activities,” adds Mole.
“There’s also enhanced opportunities to win partnership funding from other sources, too. We welcome the bid for local nature reserve status and hope the Council is successful.”