Midlothian Council has approved an additional £184,000 in funding to allow for a general excavation of the area catching fire at Gore Glen Bing.
At the latest full council meeting, councillors heard a report by head of commercial operations Ricky Moffat, which stated that these works must occur in order to make the burning bing in Gorebridge safe. Since the land was handed over to Midlothian District Council in 1985, burning of the bing has occurred intermittently. However, in October 2016 the burning area broadened considerably.
There were five remediation methods suggested in the report: carrying out general excavation, grouting, smothering of the area with inert material, to create an excavation trench or to simply do nothing, and allow the fire to burn itself out.
Speaking at the meeting, council leader Catherine Johnstone (SNP) said it was horrifying to learn that the bing has been burning sporadically over the past 20 years and added that she’d like to see more robust measures to prevent the public from accessing the potentially dangerous site.
Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP), responsible for land and countryside management, said that the only sure way of eliminating the burning and source of the heat with a degree of confidence was general excavation, adding that this method of remediation would minimise any risk to the Borders Railway and the A7.
He also indicated that the project should be managed with assistance from the Coal Authority as it was expert in this field.
It had been hoped that some responsibility would lie with the Coal Authority. However, it was explained that as the owners of the area, all responsibility for the land lay with Midlothian Council.
Councillor Jim Muirhead (Lab) challenged as to why there was a £40,000 fee for the Coal Authority after it “told us they don’t want anything to do with it”. Mr Moffat responded that this money was in place to employ the Coal Authority to do a lot of the design, procurement and on-site supervision of the works.
Councillors approved funding the excavation, adding that local councillors be given a more detailed briefing.