£13m Hawick distillery’s zero-waste plant bid gets thumbs-up

The Borders Distillery site in Commercial Road, Hawick.
The Borders Distillery site in Commercial Road, Hawick.

A former sweet factory site is to become home to a new zero-waste facility being built in conjunction with the new £10m Borders Distillery in Hawick.

Scottish Borders Council chief planner Julie Hayward has granted permission for the £3m plant to be constructed in Commercial Road.

It will incorporate an anaerobic digester, incoming feeds and balance tank, a main equipment building housing a laboratory and an office and boiler room.

All those facilities are needed to ensure the development of the adjacent distillery, granted planning approval last year.

The bio plant site is situated on the western side of Commercial Road, with the distillery, currently under construction, being on the north.

In her report, Ms Hayward says: “The site was formerly occupied by the sweetie factory, but all the buildings on that site have been demolished as part of the distillery development.

“The proposal is to install a bio plant to provide a zero-waste facility in association with the adjacent facility.

“This would comprise an anaerobic digester that would take the co-products generated by the distillery to convert them into biogas that will be converted into energy to be used for heat and power within the distillery.”

The report reveals that screens will be put up to prevent a negative visual impact on the surrounding area.

Ms Hayward adds: “The development is industrial in appearance with the majority of the structures constructed to steel with a grey finish.

“The main issue is the visual impact of the structures when viewed from Commercial Road and from the opposite side of Teviot and also on the setting of the adjacent listed building, which houses the distillery and visitors’ centre.

“A scheme has been designed to partially screen the development by erecting a brick wall along the frontage, with the brick chosen to match the stone of the distillery building, although the structures would be clearly visible above this.”

The Three Stills Company was given planning permission in July last year to convert the former Hawick Urban Electric Company building into a distillery, creating an estimated 20 jobs,

When the Borders Distillery opens later this year, it will become the first distillery in the region operating on a commercial scale for 180 years.

A council report said the distillery development was considered to be “sympathetic and sensitive” and would “respect and enhance the character and setting” of the buildings.

It found that flooding and archaeological issues had been addressed and that the overall benefits outweighed a lack of on-site parking.

The development received a warm welcome from the town’s elected representatives, with councillor Watson McAteer declaring it “just what the town needs”.

The buildings on the land in Commercial Road date back to the early part of the last century.

The finest of these is the complex built in 1900 to house Hawick Urban Electricity Company, consisting of a two-storey stone administration block with two industrial stone-built sheds to the rear and a courtyard between.

By 1938, the factory had seven boilers and a facility to store electricity generated by water power.

After 1945, the new national grid made local supply increasingly irrelevant, and the works were wound down and sold to the council in 1945.

They were subsequently passed on to Turnbull and Scott, which manufactured heat exchangers there until six years ago.

Three Stills is one of a number of firms establishing distilleries in the region ending an absence of such enterprises since 1837.

Mossburn Distillers has plans for a £40m distillery south of Jedburgh, and last year a competition by R&B Distillers saw the public pick Peebles as their preferred site for a distillery.