SOARING PROPERTY prices in Edinburgh are driving expansion of the commuter belt into West Lothian, where an old shale mine is being consolidated for a development by Persimmon Homes.
Oil shale spoil tips or 'bings' are a feature of many Scottish skylines, particularly in West Lothian.
Around the towns of Livingston, Broxburn and Bathgate, they are a reminder of the industry that thrived in the 19th century, extracting oil from shale to produce paraffin for lighting and cooking.
The industry was the creation of chemical engineer James Young, more widely remembered as Paraffi Young, who is also often credited as the father of the oil and petrochemical industry.
Reclamation of such brownfield sites is becoming increasingly commercially important, requiring stablisation of the remnants of the old shale mines.
Persimmon Homes awarded Conolidate a contract worth up to £420,000 to secure old mine workings for a 2.4ha housing project at Uphall near Broxburn.
Three exploited shale seams - the Broxburn Shale, the Grey Shale and the Curly Shale - underlay the site at depths of 20m to 35m.
Engineers from Consolidate, working with consultants DR Murray & Associates and the developer's roads and services contractor, laid out a ground consolidation grid system to enable borehole drilling.
Four drill rigs sank a total of 1,975 boreholes, which were pressure injected with a pulverised fuel ash/ cement grout mixture to ensure complete infilling of the old workings.
Consolidate director Beaton Sutherland says: 'The programming for this multiple seam treatment project was a complicated process. The central belt of Scotland has numerous old coal and shale mine workings, and reclaiming these brownfield sites plays an important role in allowing the development of the economies of these areas.' Drilling conditions were difficult in the deep, soft, shaley strata, but the project finished on schedule at the end of last month.