Burlington Stone has revealed multi-million pound investments in solar power and state-of-the-art machinery at its quarry in Kirkby.

The developments, part of a programme of development at the Holker Group-owned business, include the installation of 890 solar panels on the roofing of the quarry production sheds, forecasted to produce around 275,000 kWh of electricity per year.

This amount equates to around one third of the site's current energy usage.

Burlington Stone anticipates that the £250,000 solar panel investment, covering 1,300 square metres of roofing, will significantly decrease the quarry's carbon emissions.

As part of Holker Group's environmental strategy, the initiative represents a decisive move towards substantially lessening emissions from every section of its businesses over the next two decades.

About 70 per cent of the produced electricity will be used on site, with any surplus energy to be sold back to the National Grid.

Burlington Stone Managing Director Richard Page said: “We are proud of our long history of sustainability - in both the quality and longevity of our products, and in ensuring waste is minimised.

"From the Lake District’s historic ‘diminishing course’ roofs that make use of every size of roofing slate, to our newly integrated stone and aggregates operations, we aim to sell every tonne that we extract.

“This major solar investment at Kirkby Quarry is a big step in our innovative journey to significantly reducing our carbon emissions. Within days of the first electricity being produced we have been able to measure and share live data with our teams of the impact it is already having on our carbon footprint.”

Burlington has also invested £300,000 in modern, computer-controlled 'CNC' machinery for cutting and polishing its stone products.

Danny Judd, Burlington Engineering and Operational Improvements Manager, oversaw the solar project with Holker Group’s Chief Operating Officer Stuart Sims.

“It's been a big learning process, finding out how solar works,” said Danny. “The biggest thing is the journey of reducing our carbon footprint and becoming a more responsible and sustainable business. That's the most important for me. We're moving closer to producing carbon-neutral stone and slate products.”

These improvements were showcased during a visit by Chief Executive Jo Lappin of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The LEP contributed a £20,000 grant to the projects as part of its Innovating for Success programme.

Jo Lappin also visited the quarry area, where £5 million has been invested in its redevelopment

She said: “It was excellent to see the investments that had been made by Burlington Stone to both decarbonise their operations and to invest in new CNC machinery to further grow the business.

“The pace of implementation was really impressive, and I was pleased that Cumbria LEP could play a small part by providing £20,000 of grant funding through our Innovating for Success programme.”

Last month, Burlington Stone acquired the remaining 50 per cent stake in Barrow-based Burlington Aggregates, thereby doubling the size of the business and securing its position as one of the North West's largest independently owned construction materials groups.

Richard Page said: “These are exciting times for Burlington. The new business will bring together the high quality, well established roofing and architectural business of Burlington Stone with the experienced decorative and construction aggregates and ready-mix concrete team at Burlington Aggregates.”