Former Johnnie Walker plant to be turned into low carbon development

August 30 2017, 4.40pmUpdated: August 30 2017, 8.10pm
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The site of a former whisky bottling plant is to be transformed into a low carbon development with an investment of £5.3 million.

The Scottish Government will provide an initial £3.5 million for the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire.

The HALO project also includes an enterprise and innovation hub for business start-ups, a renewable energy centre and commercial and leisure units.

A further £1.8 million will be provided to a low carbon infrastructure transition programme for a new “geothermal” heating system that will provide low-cost, renewable energy for hundreds of affordable homes.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “I have already made a commitment to support an Ayrshire growth deal and this ambitious new development is part and parcel of that commitment.

“As a responsible, progressive nation, Scotland must also continue to demonstrate strong leadership on climate change.

“That is why I’m pleased that the Scottish Government will also be able to support our first new geothermal heating system in almost two decades, allowing local residents to access low carbon energy at an affordable price.

“We want to support local economies as well as the next generation of innovative manufacturing and digital companies, which is why the HALO project is such an exciting development.”

Marie Macklin of HALO Kilmarnock, a £65 million development featuring a new urban park surrounded by entrepreneurial businesses and an enterprise and innovation centre, said: ” This has truly been a joint effort and this additional support from the Scottish Government will help to turn this vision into reality, creating up to 1,800 jobs in the process and contributing £63 million of GDP to the Scottish economy.”

East Ayrshire Council leader councillor Douglas Reid said: “This is fantastic news for Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire and the wider Ayrshire community.

“It represents a huge step forward for the growth deal as a whole as this amazing initiative will complete the regeneration of one of the biggest brown sites in Scotland to date.”

Drinks firm Diageo, which formerly owned the bottling plant, agreed to gift the 23 acres of land for the development and by providing £2 million in financial investment.

David Cutter, president of Diageo global supply and procurement, said: “Our ambition has always been to see this site redeveloped for the benefit of the local economy and community in Kilmarnock, and this investment from Scottish Government is a significant step towards achieving that goal.”

Hannah Smith, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “It’s great to see renewable energy playing a role in the revitalisation of such an iconic Scottish site.

“Geothermal energy has exciting potential in Scotland and could play a role in meeting our ambitious renewable heat targets, but only a handful of legacy projects exist today.

“The funding provided here through the low carbon infrastructure transition programme should enable the demonstration of the technology at scale and could serve as a launchpad for an industry able to tap the heat resource which lies beneath our feet.”

Willie Coffey, MSP for Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley said: “Johnnie Walker will always be associated with Kilmarnock no matter where the whisky may be bottled.

“But these new developments are fantastic news for the town and give us renewed belief that Auld Killie itself is still going strong.”

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