From coal-mining heritage to renewable energy: how a water source heat pump is heating the visitor centre and saving money at Lochore Meadows Country Park in Fife.

Looking out today over the tranquil loch and parklands, it’s hard to believe this was once in the heartland of Fife’s coalfields. By 1904 seven pits had been excavated within the area occupied by the Country Park today. The closure of the last active colliery, the Mary Pit, in 1966 left a scarred and derelict landscape. Reclamation work included flooding a large area to create Lochore and in 1976 Lochore Meadows was designated as country park. Today, it is a well-used, attracting over 820,000 visitors in 2018, to enjoy a range of water and land-based activities.

In 2017, a park redevelopment project included a new visitor centre, designed to high standards of energy efficiency. Its location, within 100 metres of the lochside, enabled engineers to utilise the heat stored in the water of the loch to design a renewable heating system for the centre based on a water source heat pump.

The centre has a closed loop system delivering hot water at lower temperatures suitable for buildings with high thermal efficiency and, ideally, underfloor heating pipes. Pipes were buried in a trench between the centre and the Lochside and they extend approximately 10m into the loch at a depth of 3m.

The redesign of the visitor centre including other energy measures such as improved insulation, LED lighting and smart area-based heating controls – all of which have led to dramatic savings in energy costs. The separate golf centre has also benefited from renewable heat technology with the installation of an air source heat pump and there are future plans for electric vehicle charge points in the car park.

Iain Laing, Park Manager said: “The water source heat pump was a great addition to our new visitor centre and has reduced our energy costs by about 90%. Most visitors to the park don’t know we have a renewable energy system as the only thing visible is a few buoys in the water.”

With its coalmining heritage proudly displayed around the walls of the visitor centre, this is a park and a community that is deeply rooted in carbon intensive energy production. Yet it has also embraced the new energy revolution, one based on a low carbon future, where the latest renewable technologies now power the centre and even its fleet of electric mobility scooters. The park provides a leading example of what can be achieved when park redevelopment considers the implications of long-term running costs and the imperative, wherever possible, to move away from fossil fuel based heating solutions.

John Maslen, ParkPower Manager said “Lochore Meadows gives us a glimpse of the energy potential in Scotland’s parks. greenspace scotland’s ParkPower project is a strategic approach to untapping the energy potential from our parks and greenspace.

Supported as one of the Rethinking Parks prototyping projects, it is a data-driven approach, working at scale, to identify the parks with most potential to provide energy services. We will also be showcasing the range of energy opportunites in parks and exploring the potential to generate income from and for our greenspaces.”

Read more about greenspace scotland’s ParkPower project

Managed by Fife Council, Lochore Meadows is a 1200 acre country park in eastern Fife, about 15km north east of Dunfermline. The eastern edge of the park abuts the built-up fringe of two villages, Lochore and Crosshill. Read more about Lochore Meadows Country Park 

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