March 17, 2011 | Community News
Banks Mining, part of The Banks Group, has now finished the majority of the planned restoration and landscaping work on the site of the former Pegswood surface mine, which is operated between 1997 and 2005, but has been unable to complete the second phase of the community park as originally planned.
This second area was intended to be centred around a large lake, but despite repeated attempts to finish the project, the lake has not filled up to the required levels and has constantly lost a significant amount of water through leakage that it has not been possible to stop.
These problems have left an unsatisfactory landform around the lake, and have prevented the completion of the planned footpath leading from the park into Howburn Wood, meaning that the second phase of the park has not been officially opened to the public.
To address this situation and to enable restoration work to be completed, Banks is now putting forward a number of alternative options for enabling restoration work to be finalised.
Following consultation with officers from Northumberland County Council and the Pegswood Community Park advisory panel, the company’s preferred option is to infill the lake void with inert material such as rubble, soil or rock before creating a new landform with appropriate features for the location, which could include some or all of a smaller lake, new woodland and new grassland.
The feedback received from local people and other relevant bodies will play a central role in deciding which course of action to take.
An explanatory leaflet and questionnaire outlining the different options is now both being circulated across local communities and made available for completion on the Banks Group’s website. The plans will also be displayed in a series of exhibitions which will be set up over the next few weeks in local villages.
Once all the feedback has been gathered and reviewed, Banks will consider the responses. The company will then decide whether it is appropriate to submit a new planning application to Northumberland County Council and to apply for a permit for the restoration work from the Environment Agency.
Decisions on any applications should be reached by the end of the year, with work beginning on site in spring 2012 if they are approved.
Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, says: “Despite a great deal of effort to find a workable solution to the difficulties with the lake, we have been unable to complete the site restoration as planned, which is a great disappointment to us and which leaves the park in a situation which does not match our normal high standards to provide new amenities and landscapes when restoring our sites.
“We’re beginning this wider public consultation process to understand what local people would like to see happen at the site and to agree the best way to move things forward.
“Phase one of the Pegswood Community Park has been a real success and is very well used by local people. It is now a priority for us to complete phase two of the park and we will continue to work with local communities through the coming months to ensure they’re kept fully up-to-date with progress.”
Anyone who would like more information on the different options for the Pegswood Community Park scheme can contact Emily Hooson at Banks Mining on 0844 209 1515 (local rate number) or via firstname.lastname@example.org.