Responsible land-use
GCNi Spring 2004

Increasing legislation and public demands for sympathetic land use has formed a double pronged weapon - the need to use acceptable sites for new developments and the need to make use of sites that have already been used for other purposes. By and large this means Brownfield land and this has become a frequently used term. Brownfield meaning, "any land which has been previously developed"
Sustainable development has become a byword for the private and public sector - rightly so, but how does one go about deciding what to do with, for example, a landfill that has reached the end of its time as an amenity tip?
Monitoring the volume of vacant and derelict land in Scotland has shown that the total area of land recorded as vacant and derelict had reduced from 15,400 hectares in 1993 to 10,607 hectares in 2001. Eight per cent (60ha) of that reclaimed land was redeveloped for recreation, leisure and passive open space. (Source: Scottish Executive). Since those figures were released a further 10 acres of completed landfill have been restored to public use at Kilsyth Lennox Golf Club near Glasgow.
Golf Course Construction Company, Contour Golf are rapidly becoming the first name on the shopping list for such difficult projects. "I don't know whether it's chance or whether word has got around but we are increasingly being called in to deal with challenging sites and Kilsyth Lennox is no exception to that." Said Contour's contract manager, Phil Reeve. Kilsyth follows hot on the heels of the Blackley extension project on a landfill site near Manchester and this perhaps confirms that Contour is getting a good reputation on bad ground. As well as a good reputation on good ground as evidenced by their rebuild of Irish Open venue Fota Island three years ago.
Reeve was not joking when he described the Kilsyth site as difficult, here's how it pans out; the golf course had two neighbours Patersons Quarry and the Colzium landfill - formerly a quarry, the quarry wanted to dig out some 15 acres of the golf course that house seven holes 11 thru 16, the golf course were happy to let them have that land if new land were made available for them to improve and extend their course. A deal was struck that saw approx nine acres of completed landfill being made available for four new holes with a further three new holes being destined for another new parcel of land to the north west of the site. Add to this the need to reroute portions of the existing mature course over the last three years to allow for and prepare for this major reworking of the course ready for a grand, 2005 opening - quite a project...
All in all very complicated, but that was not the end of it as Reeve explained; "What we also had to do was keep the course open throughout all of this so that the members and guests could continue to play." A logistical masterpiece was put into operation and the works came to an end in mid August 2003 despite the best efforts of many agencies. "We were waiting for the landfill site to be capped off with clay but it just kept getting delayed so in the end the quarry just said 'OK we'll do it'." It is this kind of interactive action and reaction that has seen the Kilsyth project go so far so smoothly.
Contour came on site for this phase of the works in April 2003 and, working to a basic routing plan from Rocky Rocquemore, have so far completed seven new holes, redirected and improved a burn, shifted 60,000 cubic metres of imported soil, imported 9,000 cubic metres of topsoil, constructed seven greens to USGA standards and turned a tip into a golf course to be proud of.
"It's hard to envision how it's all going to work when the landfill is all that can be seen," said Contour MD Ingrid Eichler who continued, "but Phil [Reeve] has worked wonders in shaping the site and, to all intents and purposes, designed the holes and the green complexes." Moreover the engineering involved in making the site viable is most worthy of note; for example the drainage: "The site slopes so severely that the drainage has to be absolutely spot on. My background is as a drainage engineer so I am well aware of the importance of moving water effectively and quickly."
To do this, Eichler employed a series of gully pots and linked herringbone drains throughout - the point being that the stability of the imported soil on top of a metre thick clay cap over inert landfill is of the utmost importance. Not everyone can be sure that what they are doing will actually manage the job in hand, Contour do and this is perhaps why they are currently in negotiation for yet another landfill site over in Ireland. "Our first job ever was on a very difficult site in Oxfordshire [Magnolia Park] a consultant agronomist advised that a golf course should not be built there and another construction company refused to price the job because they had considered it too difficult to build - we proved them wrong and have been doing so ever since." It is no wonder that Eichler is keen to point out the successes of her company, as the only woman to head up a golf course construction company in the UK, possibly in Europe, her work has to be better than good, it has to be peerless, the evidence at Kilsyth Lennox proves that it is.