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Slating The Scots

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Guest LongBlackKilt

ScotlandonSunday

..."We tried our best to find something that would match the Aberfoyle slate that would have been on Stirling Castle," said David Mitchell, of Historic Scotland. "The nearest we could find was from England. Up to now our policy has been to try to reclaim, recycle old slates, salvage them from one old building for another. But we are rapidly getting to the stage that this is not possible."

Historic Scotland has some stocks of the stone. But supplies are running out – and much of the rock that is left, despite its longevity (the best Scottish slate, like that from the former quarries at Ballachulish, has a lifespan of up to 150 years), is no longer fit to be used.

Although the roofs at Stirling Castle are periodically replaced, the fact that slate from a mine in Cumbria has been used since 2002 was not known until now. Although the type of stone is similar to that found in Scotland, it often has a greener colour to it.

Geologists have found huge reserves of usable slate ready to be mined in Scotland, both in the west and the north-east. But no commercial operator has come forward with a viable plan to dig it out.

"The feeling is the government has done as much as it can and it is now up to the private sector to try," Mitchell said. "The big slate importers are of the view that they can solve the problem, that they can match Scottish slate.

"The imported slate is now much better than it ever was. Some of the stuff coming into the country in the 80s and 90s was shockingly bad. Ideally, however, we would like to see quarries reopen here."

Some slaters are predicting a crisis. Graeme Millar runs a family slating business in Peebles and does a lot of work in Edinburgh. "We believe there are up to 10,000 homes in the world heritage sites needing reslating in the next five years alone. This is a huge issue. We simply don't have the Scotch slate we need to do the job.

"Edinburgh – and other towns and cities – could end up looking very different indeed if we put imported slate on their roofs."...

Anyone up for this?

Or would you see more of an opportunity in recycling surplus suburban tiles in years to come?

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Are you proposing setting up a mining operation?

Although the roofs at Stirling Castle are periodically replaced, the fact that slate from a mine in Cumbria has been used since 2002 was not known until now. Although the type of stone is similar to that found in Scotland, it often has a greener colour to it.

http://www.burlingtonslate.co.uk/

Burlington is a relatively large operation with a London sales office literally 100 yards from the Home Office. If they're not interested in digging it out then the sums probably don't add up.

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