County Durham’s Morrison Busty Depot, has benefited from an incredible low carbon facelift, with significant savings in carbon emissions and energy bills
What is the Morrison Busty?
The site is located just south of Annfield Plain, and started its life as the Morrison Busty Colliery in the late 1920s. The site initially opened as an active pit, employing 1500 people until it closed its gates in 1973. It is now owned by Durham County Council and since late 2019 has been having significant improvements to the buildings and infrastructure with the aim of reducing emissions across the site to zero. In June, the depot fully reopened with new insulation added to the buildings, a 3MW solar farm along with battery storage and EV infrastructure so that all buildings and EV vehicles can be powered by the sun.
These amazing developments have been made possible thanks to a grant from the European Regional Development Fund, joined with funding from the county council.
How is it making a difference?
The depot has a huge solar farm with a tesla battery that stores 2 megawatt hours of energy. Solar power is a renewable energy source, and not only does the solar farm generate enough electricity to power the site, but it also sometimes has a surplus that is put back into the grid to be distributed around the county.
There is also a refurbished office building, fitted fully with LED lighting, ‘A’ rated windows, and a thermal wrap to keep the heat in.
Additionally, there is an on-site plant nursery which also opens to the public that has been fully transferred from gas to electric. There are many more things this amazing site has to offer, and these changes will save more than 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, contributing towards the councils 2030 and the county-wide carbon neutral targets by 2045.
The solar farm is a 23acre site next to Chapmen’s Well nature reserve and because of this there was a need to ensure the development took into account all ecological concerns. After a search in the area, it was identified as home for many birds and species categorised as National Priority Status, such as Bullfinch, Willow Tit and Grasshopper warbler.
Development went ahead after discussions with Council ecological experts and following development it is hoped the area will improve biodiversity. By seeding the grass with a wildflower mix and introducing sheep in the next phase of development, they will be using sustainable and nature-friendly solution to cutting the grass, maintaining the land around it, and encouraging healthy soil and meadows, which helps towards our ecological emergency aspirations. The project is also included installing bird nesting boxes and improving the surrounding ponds.
The project is not going unnoticed. It has been nominated for an award in the Association of Public Service Excellence Awards, in the best climate change project category, and will be finding out in September whether it’s a winner.