A PARK in Edinburgh has literally gone green after becoming the first in the UK to harness eco-power.

A micro-hydro scheme has been installed in Saughton Park which converts energy from the Water of Leith to power ground source heat pump systems which provide heat for the park's glasshouse, buildings and cafe.

The scheme, which will save £18,000 a year in energy costs, is estimated to prevent more than 90 tonnes of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year.

Politicians and energy bosses hope it will inspire other similar initiatives around the world and act 'as a beacon'.

Councillor Donald Wilson, culture and communities convener with Edinburgh City Council, said Edinburgh was 'leading the way.'

"The completion of this incredible project makes it the UK’s first eco-powered greenspace, proving that modern technology can be introduced to historic public parks," he said.

"These are both aspects I have been personally involved in and I’m passionate about."

He had dreamed of such a project for a decade, he added.

"To have it become reality in such an impressive way is just fantastic," he said. "What meets the eye in the beautiful Saughton Park almost has to be seen to be believed but there is a lot more to it than that! It is green in more ways than one!"

He said the scheme would harness natural energy and provide cleaner air for the local community.

"It will contribute greatly to Edinburgh’s ambitious net zero carbon goals," he said. "This is a great achievement for Saughton Park and for the city of Edinburgh as a whole."

The money saved in energy costs will be re-invested in the park, creating new 'educational and social facilities' for visitors.

Climate Change Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said the project proved how public parks could be transformed into renewable energy hubs.

"This innovative collaboration which received £180,000 from our Energy Efficient Scotland programme, demonstrates how public parks can be transformed into renewable energy hubs, supplying reliable and sustainable heat and electricity to local communities," she said.

“It also delivers a high quality public greenspace and I hope this project will be a beacon for similar eco-powered initiatives, which will have a key role to play in decarbonising Scotland's energy system in the future and helping us to achieve our net zero goals.”

The mini hydro was funded by a £500,000 grant from SP Energy Networks’ £20million Green Economy Fund.

SP Energy Networks chief executive Frank Mitchell described it as 'an incredible achievement.'

"This project not only provides cleaner air for local people in Edinburgh – it also leads the way for other greenspaces around the world which can use it as a blueprint for success," he said.

“Scotland and the UK have ambitious plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions and investing in community projects like this makes big strides towards a cleaner future for all of us. We created the Green Economy Fund to help communities build their own green economy and decarbonise infrastructure and Saughton Park is a great example of how that can be done. Decarbonisation is more important than ever as we continue to drive a green recovery from the economic impact of Covid-19 and I’m very proud Saughton Park can now play its part to help achieve that ambition.”