History of Barr

20th Century
It was in the late nineteenth century, when a couple of Ayrshire joiners started a joinery and building company named W & J Barr & Sons, and little did they know that the future had in store for Barr. Over the next few decades, the company became a household name in the Ayrshire region, becoming increasingly well known as a reliable and efficient building company. This further developed in the mid-20th century, as the company expanded into a major civil engineering firm, securing and building projects over Scotland and North England. Barr gained additional popularity as one of the leading companies in the construction of many sports stadiums throughout Scotland and England.

Barr continued to diversify and expand its business during the late twentieth century, establishing a strong reputation with services in construction, quarries, road surfacing, civil engineering and waste management.

21st Century
Barr, in the 21st century, is now simply Barr Environmental, having sold Quarries and Surfacing & Civil Engineering in October 2014 and Construction is now run by Barr’s sister company, McLaughlin & Harvey Construction Ltd. With over 150 years’ experience supporting it, Barr Environmental has been operational for two decades, providing a variety of high quality waste treatment, recycling and disposal facilities throughout the West and South West of Scotland.

“Barr is a name and brand well known in the local market,” says Bill Weir, Managing Director of Barr, “and has had an operational base in Ayrshire for over a century. We are now the sole custodians of this name and we use this proudly to further strengthen our presence in our local region.”

With its sole focus on waste management, Barr currently operates sites throughout Ayrshire and Alexandria, with over fifty members of experienced staff working in state of the art facilities. Our facilities process a range of household, commercial and industrial waste, utilising a mix of mechanical and manual labour.

Our head office is located in Killoch, which is also home to our own Killoch Training Centre. The Killoch Training Centre provides specialist training to our staff in waste disposal and management.

What’s Next for Barr?

The way in which we segregate, dispose and treat waste has changed dramatically in the last two decades, and that pace of change will only increase due to the clear objectives and targets of Scotland’s Zero Waste plan. To achieve this, Barr has been developing a brand new, state-of-the-art energy from waste facility titled the ‘Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park’. This park will be based in Killoch, next to Barr’s head office and will change the face of recycling and waste disposal in Ayrshire, due to technology that does not exist in the region. This highly advanced technological solution will convert household waste into heat and electricity, and will showcase Barr’s sustainable and reliable service due to the Scottish Governments growing demands on the nature of recycling and the diminishing volume of waste that can be sent to landfill. (see Zero Waste Scotland below)



Zero Waste Scotland‘s landfill target (in yellow)

Director Gavin Ramsey says: “By 2025, the Scottish Government wants 95% of all waste generated away from landfill. That’s why sites like these (Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park) are the future. The ability to process waste and use it for energy is something that other countries have been doing for a while now.”

He’s right. Other highly developed countries in Europe and Asia have been utilising this technology for the past decade. Germany has gone even further and completely stopped using landfill sites, and have Energy from Waste facilities located throughout the country. In simple, non-scientific terms, Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park’s fundamental asset is its ability to cook waste, not burn it, which can convert this waste into heat and energy.

“Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park will be a fully operational energy recovery gasification facility,” Gavin Ramsey continues, “that will heat Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) and convert it into a gas from which energy will be created. It involves the waste being ‘cooked’ at roughly 900°C. The result is a substance rich in hydrogen, which can then be converted to energy.”

Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park

Waste process

Director Gavin Money says: “We have a chance to rejuvenate a brownfield site and create 35 full-time jobs as well as an additional 200 jobs for the two year construction of the plant. We think the level of investment and development would be great for the region.”

When asked how long until the facility will be operational, Gavin Money says: “We hope, with construction complete, to be underway by the first quarter of 2018.”

The Killoch Site

Killoch was developed in the 1950’s and commissioned as a deep shaft coal mining and processing facility in 1960. The facility operated for almost three decades and closed in 1987.

At its peak, however, Killoch employed over 2,300 people and was one of the National Coal Board (NCB) architects, Egon Riss’s great schemes. It provided excellent surface facilities for its workforce and was dominated by its two winding towers, which were demolished soon after its closure.

Barr has operated as a waste management business from Killoch for over a decade and wishes to rejuvenate and recapture the rich history of the site, transforming it from a redundant coal mining site into a modern waste treatment facility.

Gavin Money says: “The Killoch site itself is a historical part of Ayrshire that ceased its operations nearly three decades ago. We, at Barr, want to keep Killoch alive and transform it into an advanced waste treatment facility.”

With its planning application in progress with East Ayrshire Council, Barr embarked on a series of [public consultation] events around Ayrshire to inform and educate the public on this new facility and its positive impacts, economically, financially and environmentally.

“We visited Netherthird, Drongan, Auchinleck, Ochiltree and Mauchline Community Centres during the end of March and early April, “says Gavin Money, “to show the local community exactly what our Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park is. We knew there were going to be a lot of questions but we were there to answer them.”

Zero Waste Scotland
zero waste scotland logo

Zero Waste Scotland is a Scottish Government-funded agency that works with business, local authorities, individuals and local communities in order to help them reduce waste and recycle more.

Their main goal, strategically, is simple: Eliminate all waste in Scotland.
Similar to Barr’s circular economy ideology, Zero Waste Scotland are wanting to make sure all waste is sufficiently managed, recycled and treated in order to prevent long term damage to the environment, and also significantly reduce the amount of waste on landfill sites.

For example, we (Scotland) currently dump over two million tonnes of food waste every year. If just half of this food waste was captured and treated through [anaerobic digestion], the electricity generated from this waste could power a city the size of Dundee for six months, provide heat for local homes and businesses and provide enough fertiliser for 10% of Scotland’s crop needs.

Barr is committed to supporting its local authority customers achieve the clear and comprehensive targets outlined by Zero Waste Scotland. Clearly, one of the main targets is to reduce the amount of material sent to landfill.

At Barr, our traditional business model was to send material to landfill but we have recognised that a more environmentally viable and sustainable disposal solution must be sought.

This solution does not currently exist in Ayrshire and, therefore, have taken the decision to invest in the Barr Killoch Energy Recovery Park.

Utilising waste as a resource is a fundamental shift away from historic thinking but a philosophy we at Barr are adopting and we as a society need to embrace in order to develop a more sustainable environment whilst supporting the Scottish Government with this goal.