Highland Spring seeks permission for solar farm at headquarters

Highland Spring has revealed that it has partnered with Blackford Farms and is undergoing planning permission for a solar farm. The proposed development on farm land near the company’s base in Blackford, Perthshire, forms part of wider net zero initiatives as it aims to become net zero by 2040. The development aims to provide the site with electricity from renewable sources via a private wire connection.

Highland Spring has been a carbon neutral company since last year and has been zero to landfill for three years. The company’s electricity is all green, but it has so-far had to buy that in from renewable sources. Another sustainable milestone for the company this year will be the opening of its new rail freight facility in August.

Joint managing director Mark Steven said that so far the project has cost around GBP20m and has been developed in partnership with Network Rail and Transport Scotland, with the overall investment by the company into efficiencies and reaching net zero goals over the last five years coming to nearly GBP35m. “It will enable us to transport goods in a more sustainable manner,” said Steven. “We will take about 40% of our volume off the road and put it straight onto trains – taking about 8,000 movements off the road and allowing us to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by about 3,200 tonnes a year.” It will be diesel run initially, until Network Rail begins the electrification of the railway line it sits on.

The project aligns with the Scottish Government’s policy targets to promote the modal shift of freight from road to rail, electrify and decarbonise Scotland’s railway by 2035, and increase the use of rail freight by 7.5% by 2024.

Meanwhile, Steven argued that the Scottish Government’s bottle deposit return scheme will “drive responsible recycling”. He stated that the delayed scheme, which is finally expected to come into play in August next year, will “close the loop” and increase the availability of “high quality recycled material”. Highland Spring, a founding member of Circularity Scotland, is working to achieve recycling rates of about 90% through collaboration with other members of the scheme, as well as getting more businesses to join.

It introduced a range of 100% recycled bottles in 2018 and are working towards 100% recycled PET across the rest of its range by 2025. Steven reckons that the bottle deposit return scheme will drive down the price of recycled material, which is currently more expensive than virgin material. New product development has been fast-tracked in response to changing consumer needs and demand for healthy hydration, which has led to the introduction of its 10L Hydration Pack and sparkling flavoured cans.

Highland Spring is also on the hunt for 10 new staff members. It is looking for operators and forklift truck drivers in its warehouse and operations team. It employs more than 350 staff members across three locations – Blackford and Lennoxtown in Scotland and the Brecon Beacons in Wales.

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