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£1million fund helps accelerate South of Scotland’s Net Zero commitment

Funding worth £1million is being distributed to a series of businesses and organisations across the South of Scotland to take forward innovative projects to accelerate the region’s Net Zero journey.

First Minister Humza Yousaf visited one of the businesses - stone masons and merchants Hutton Stone - today (Wednesday 21 February) to mark the allocation from the South of Scotland Enterprise’s Net Zero Accelerator Fund (NZAF).

The NZAF is designed to help accelerate the Just Transition to Net Zero, through supporting innovative solutions and technologies brought forward by South of Scotland businesses and organisations.

In 2023/24, the Fund is providing £1m to a total of 13 local businesses and organisations to take forward their projects, enabling the businesses to enter new markets and opportunities, at the same time as reducing their carbon emissions.

At Hutton Stone, which is based near Swinton in the Scottish Borders, the company will receive £300,000 to support the purchase of production equipment that will enable the business to offer a new product which will help increase its productivity by up to 75%.

The new production equipment will provide an estimated carbon emission saving of over 50% compared with conventional production and reduce the amount of fuel consumed from drilling stone blocks by up to 30%, helping to futureproof the company.

The company was founded in 1994 and having started with one employee, now have a staff roll of 44.

Its stone products have been used in high profile projects including Usher Hall, McEwan Hall, Fettes College, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh Castle, New Waverly, The Scottish National Gallery, West Register House, Royal Academy of Art in London and Glasgow School of Art.  

Hutton Stone’s innovative project was supported by a CivTech Challenge co-sponsored by SOSE and Zero Waste Scotland, which saw tech start-up Looper create a technology-based solution to help local organisations make informed decisions around potential use and re-use of its resources in new ways.

The Fund, which will also be available in 2024/25, supports the South of Scotland’s aim of becoming the first Net Zero region in the UK, with the South already having been named Scotland’s Natural Capital Investment Zone.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said:

“Hutton Stone will be able to use this funding to create new business while reducing carbon emissions – thereby seizing valuable opportunities presented by the transformation our economy needs to go through to reach Net Zero.

“The latest £1million of funding allocations will support multiple businesses to take forward innovative projects in diverse sectors including electric vehicle repair and food and drink across the South of Scotland to capture opportunities that will create better, secure jobs, grow their innovative businesses and drive trade and investment.

 “These allocations join significant Scottish Government investment in the region – including £85 million towards the ten-year Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal to support economic growth in the region.”

Marcus Paine, Managing Director of Hutton Stone, added:

“We are incredibly grateful to both South of Scotland Enterprise, Zero Waste Scotland, Looper and Scottish Government for the support they have afforded us.

“We are delighted to host The First Minister today to highlight the industry and its place in a low carbon future.

“Scotland is synonymous with its magnificent natural stone heritage and our mission as the current custodians of its industry is to ensure its Just Transition to Net Zero, while producing innovative new products with a fraction of the carbon cost of currently available alternatives.

“The support provided to us by the Net Zero Accelerator Fund will do exactly that and I am enormously proud to be part of a Scottish Borders company leading the progression of this across the UK.”

Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SOSE, said:

“Hutton Stone’s project has received support via SOSE, CivTech, Zero Waste Scotland and Looper, highlighting the importance of partnership working as we aim to reach the target of Scotland being Net Zero by 2045.

“The Net Zero Accelerator Fund is also an example of SOSE putting words into action, supporting a range of businesses and organisations to improve productivity, advance innovation and accelerate Net Zero solutions, as we committed to do in our Five Year Plan.”

Other projects being supported by the Fund include Newton Stewart yoghurt production plant Rowan Glen, who received £142,000 towards the purchase and installation of a cream separator and cooling and storage facility. The new technology will significantly reduce the amount of plastic and paper packaging used and decrease the freight miles incurred by the company.

NZAF also supported the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries to install a new heating system to improve heating controls in all their rooms, resulting in a gas and electrical usage reduction of up to 30%.  

Funding was also provided to Auto Solutions Borders, to help create an electric vehicle diagnostics  and repair centre to support the increasing number of EV vehicles in the region.

Rowan Glen Ltd Managing Director Alan Baxter added:

“Our Net Zero Accelerator Fund supported project is laying the foundations for a sustainable future, removing a large amount of packaging usage, transport emissions and energy consumption from our supply chain.

“Not only does this significantly reduce our impact on the environment, it also opens new opportunities for product development and reduces our costs to help ensure we continue to deliver our everyday premium products at an affordable price.”

Cairndale Hotel Director Matthew Wallace Snr said:

“The installation of an intelligent wireless heat management system was integrated into our property management system to reduce our carbon emissions.

“The new system also allows the hotel to control individual guest bedrooms, improve guest comfort while also allowing greater control of the heating in public areas of the hotel.”

More information 

The list of the majority of the businesses and organisations who have been supported by the Net Zero Accelerator Fund in 2023/24 is below. Please note due to commercial sensitivities a small number of projects are not included but will be available before end of 2023/24 financial year on SOSE’s website.

·       Hutton Stone, West Fishwick

·       Rowan Glen, Palnure

·       Auto Solutions Borders, Earlston

·       Cairndale Hotel, Dumfries

·       Cochran, Annan

·       Southern Uplands Partnership

·       Vulture Recycling Equipment Ltd, Dumfries

·       Eyemouth Freezers Limited

·       Polymer Extrusion Technologies (UK) Ltd, Dumfries

·       Farne Salmon and Trout Ltd, Duns

·       Browns Food Group, Kelloholm

·       Owen Farm Services, Lockerbie

SOSE’s Five Year Plan launched in 2023 is available here.

Hutton Stone’s stone products have also been used in projects such as St John’s Church in the centre of Edinburgh, The Quadrangle at Edinburgh University, Cameron House Hotel, Loch Lomond, Royal Academy of Art, London, Glasgow School of Art, The Laidlaw Music Centre, St Andrews, Alnwick Castle, Inverness Townhouse and Greenlaw Town Hall.