Addiewell Bing

A nature reserve which encompasses one of West Lothian's oil shale spoil heaps, Addiewell Bing lies a half-mile (0.8 km) northeast of Addiewell Railway Station. The reserve was designated in 1987 and is run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT). The sterile alkaline substrate which forms this post-industrial site provides an unusual habitat for flora and fauna, including woodland, scrub and grassland, noted for its breeding birds and wildflowers.

The bing itself comprises two parts, located to the north and south of the B792 road, and once covered a total area of 42 ha (104 acres). It holds the burnt shale (or blaes) after oil was extracted by heating in a refinery built in 1865 by James 'Paraffin' Young (1811-83). The bing grew until shale mining ended in 1932.

Work was carried out to prevent the northern section of the bing sliding into the Breich Water and natural colonisation by trees took place, while many thousands of others were planted to stabilise the soil. The SWT subsequently removed non-native trees. The southern section was subject to a rehabilitation plan in 1991 by the former Lothian Region Council and the Scottish Development Agency, with much material removed, and the remainder grassed over. The blaes was in demand as a cheap low-grade fill for the construction industry. Part of the site used as the location for the new HM Prison Addiewell, which opened in 2008.

Addiewell South still rises to a height of 30m (98 feet) above the surrounding countryside (210m / 689 feet above sea level), while Addiewell North is lower, only reaching 9m (30 feet) in height.

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