Recycling centre being planned at old gas site in Hawick
Plans are being drawn up to convert the old British Gas headquarters in Hawick into a recycling plant.
Proposals have been revealed to invest more than £100,000 in the building, on the north bank of the River Teviot, overlooking Mansfield Road, to bring it back into use after standing empty for 30 years.
Kenneth Thomson has bought the half-acre site and hopes to set up an ethical recycling complex there.
Mr Thomson, 36, of Galashiels, currently runs a recycling business on the Charlesfield Industrial Estate at St Boswells, but if he gets the go-ahead for the Hawick plant he will relocate there.
He said: “Finding a site in Galashiels, which is quite developed now, was really difficult, but Hawick has kind of been forgotten since the mills went, and I’m happy to invest there because it’s a lovely town.
“The whole investment is going to be in excess of £100,000 because it’s all got to be done in line with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s standards.
“It’s all about protecting the environment. I’m not a fly-by-night. I do the job properly, and I’m sick of hearing about stuff being dumped in China.
“That’s what some of the big companies in Britain have been doing. They have been putting so-called recycling in containers and been sending it away all over the world and dumping it on these poor people, and that’s all wrong. That’s not what recycling is all about.”
Mr Thomson’s plans are the polar opposite to those of the last owner of the riverside land.
Scottish Borders Council planners had received an application from Sava Estates in Glasgow for the conversion of the building into a hot food takeaway, but it was rejected on the grounds that the area is designated for industrial and business use.
Mr Thomson said: “The man who used to own it at Glasgow put it up for auction, and I bought the site about three months ago and I’m planning to open it as a recycling yard.
“I will be recycling cardboard, paper and metal and eventually employing five people on the site. I have been in recycling for about 10 years.
“I have not submitted a planning application yet. I am just using the site for storing equipment, and I will soon be contacting the council to put in an application to make it a proper working site.
“The plan is to move from Charlesfield because I am in an upstairs building there and I need something on the ground.
“Finding an industrial site in the Borders is really, really hard. They are usually huge places or the size of a double garage, so this was the right size.
“There is a council depot just behind, the Scottish Gas Networks yard at the back – that site is full of pipes and industrial equipment for doing their gas processing – and behind them is a person with generators and plant machinery, so it is a very heavy industrial area.
“My goal is to help businesses do more recycling instead of sending their rubbish to landfill. These companies are very willing to do the right thing with regards to the environment, but it is the costs involved that put them off.
“I can do it at a lower cost because I am based in the Borders, whereas everything now goes to the cities.
“The people who cover this area aren’t really interested in this area because it is so spread out and they can’t get the tonnages they want.
“They have big machines that need to process 25 tonnes an hour, whereas I don’t need anything like that to make it justified.
“We are collecting and sorting it at source, so there are no rejected materials or anything like that, such as oil-covered cardboard. It’s all clean stuff.
“We work with UK manufacturers that make the products we pick up, and they make it into products in the UK. It is not exported to China or India. It’s all done in the UK.
“If we get the go-ahead, I would hope that the site will be ready to operate towards the end of the year.
“It was an ex-National Grid property that needs refurbished inside due to flooding.
“The last time anybody worked on the site was 30 years ago when it was the British Gas headquarters in Hawick.”