staff at milestone garden centre

Milestone Garden Centre looks forward to sustainable future

A Scottish Borders garden centre has embarked on an environmental strategy which aims to ensure the company has a sustainable future. 

Milestone Garden and Leisure Ltd based in Newtown St Boswells comprises of a shop which caters to all different garden needs as well as the on-site café.

Sustainability project

In order to maintain the long-term viability of the business, the company recognised they had to address monthly electricity costs that were putting severe pressure on their cashflow.

Milestone identified that their roof was well positioned and had the ability to hold a large number of solar panels.

Supported by advice from Business Energy Scotland and combined with Milestone’s strategy of being environmentally friendly, the company decided to take forward a solar panel installation project.  

Milestone approached SOSE and we provided financial support to the business in the form of a £60,682 grant, bridging the approximate 35% gap in funding and enabling them to complete the project last year.

We also provided guidance around Fair Work. 

What was the result?

  • As a result, the Newtown company installed a total of 323 panels which is expected to cover almost half of its annual electricity usage and costs, and an estimated annual saving of up to £30,000.
  • Since the project was completed, the positive environmental impact is the equivalent of planting 40 trees.

What is next?

Phase two of its project will see Milestone implement an innovative facility for its customers which includes electric car charging points partly powered by the solar panel canopies.

This project is believed to be a first in the UK and expected to be viewed as an example for other businesses to observe how this system works.

Following phase two, planning permission is already in place for nine business/retail units, allowing opportunities for local, existing and start-up businesses to flourish and benefit from the centre’s significant footfall. 

It is hoped the planned future expansion will help create further employment opportunities in the Scottish Borders.

Although half of the on-site power is now renewable, any future development that has suitable roof space will be utilised with more solar panels wherever possible and any future expansion plans will be combined with Milestone’s existing environmental strategy. 

Ross Allan, Managing Director from Milestone Garden & Leisure said:

“We have benefited greatly from the help and support from SOSE and in particular our Business Development Specialist’s help, advice and guidance to allow us to bring this project to fruition.

“Getting through these early challenging stages with the tremendous help from SOSE has allowed Milestone to focus on short, medium and long-term projects without the business being held back with crippling costs.

“Without this invaluable help as a small local business in the Scottish Borders, we had no way of plugging the funding gap needed to realise this vision.

“Our future is now very bright. It is a great relief to future proof the company to a large degree.”

Campbell Young, a Business Development Specialist at SOSE who supported Milestone with its project said:

“This was about more than installing solar panels – it was about helping Milestone to become a destination centre to bring more and more people to visit and work in the area.  

“I really enjoyed working with Ross Allan and his team at Milestone, and look forward to seeing the company’s progress in the coming years.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of SOSE, added:

“Milestone is a fantastic example of an innovative idea being turned into reality through the hard work of the business involved.

“Their project has been supported by partners including SOSE and Business Energy Scotland, to provide guidance, advice and some financial assistance.

“SOSE remains absolutely committed to people, prosperity and place, meeting the ambitions of our region, and continuing to help businesses, social enterprises, communities and the people of the South to thrive, grow and fulfil their best potential.”