Emergency work to deal with a Midlothian coal waste bing that is over-heating started on Monday, January 30.
Contractors working for the Coal Authority started the process of digging out the waste around the hot-spot on the Kirkhill Tip, which forms part of the Gore Glen Woodland Park at Gorebridge.
The public has been excluded from this part of the 108-acre park since the coal tip began to spontaneously combust last summer. It is now burning both above and below ground, making the area highly unstable, particularly as the site lies between the busy A7 and the Borders railway line.
Site owner, Midlothian Council, is working with the Coal Authority, which specialises in resolving the impacts of coal mining both at home and abroad, including the engineering and maintenance of coal waste tips.
Having considered the distances involved and the anticipated prevailing wind conditions, it is considered unlikely that there will be undue dust or smoke arising from the works that will adversely affect neighbouring properties.
Midlothian Council will be undertaking monitoring during the course of the works specifically with regards to dust and other potential gaseous pollutants.
Eric Burgess, commercial manager for the Coal Authority, said: “This is an amenity site that is not only accessed by the public but also lies between a main road and a railway line. It is situated in a very awkward place and the heated ground has made it very unstable, resulting in falling trees, fires and smoke.”
He estimated it would take up to seven weeks to complete the work, although he stressed that it was always difficult to put a definite time scale on such a job because it would depend on numerous unknown factors, such as the material beneath the surface.
Midlothian Councillor Derek Rosie added that the Gore Glen Woodland Park was a valuable amenity and the council was keen for it to be re-opened.
He added: “Council members acknowledged that we need to get this situation resolved as quickly as possible so we can fully re-open this important area to the public.
“The paths and woodland in the park offer a great wildlife habitat that is enjoyed by locals and visitors.”