February 8, 2012 | Community News
The landscape management work carried out by Banks Mining at the 200-hectare Moss Carr site between Methley and Rothwell has been named as the winner of the Landscape category at the annual Leeds Architectural Awards, beating off competition from five other projects from across the local area.
Over a million tonnes of coal was recovered from the Moss Carr site by Banks between 1997 and 2004, with initial restoration work being completed the following year.
A five-year aftercare management plan to enhance the landscape and public access to the site was agreed with Leeds City Council’s Planning Department, and then put into action by Banks, in partnership with Mexborough Estates.
One of the largest new broadleaf woodlands in Leeds has been created, which encompasses 43,000 trees on a 30-hectare part of the site, and which links up with existing woodlands, whilst new playing fields have also been added on land between the site and Rothwell Sports Centre.
Other new landscape features include new wetlands, a new avenue of trees, a new area of parkland, which was an extension to an existing parkland area and which is being used for deer farming, and around 6.5 kilometres of new hedges.
A new public footpath has been added to the east of the site which runs through existing woodland and which links up with existing rights of way, thereby providing new recreational opportunities.
A number of other footpaths, including a section of the Leeds Country Way, have also been reinstated, with new features such as ‘green lane’ hedging and direction markers added to enhance their public value.
Organised by Leeds City Council in association with the Leeds Property Forum, the Leeds Architecture Awards are designed to bring together the property, regeneration, development and architecture communities in Leeds, to promote and celebrate design excellence in the built environment.
Celebrated architect John Lyall RIBA RFSA, who led the Architecture Awards judging panel, says: “This staggeringly ambitious project planned and executed so successfully by Banks Mining inspired the judging panel.
“The restoration of such a huge area of opencast mines back to a pastoral countryside richer than before it was dug up is truly remarkable – it is a story that has to be told and copied elsewhere, and lays the lie that opencast working ruins the landscape.
“The landscape has been enhanced with tens of thousands of trees, miles of hedgerows, ditches and ponds, sitting astride the Leeds Country Way, and the exciting attribute is that it will continue to look better and better over future years as maturity takes it hold.”
Banks Mining has operated over 100 surface mining sites across the UK over the last three decades, including several within Yorkshire. Banks Renewables, which is also part of The Banks Group, is behind the Penny Hill, Marr and Hazlehead wind farms, which are currently being built in different parts of the county.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “The restoration and management of the Moss Carr site has been a hugely detailed and carefully-planned operation which was conceived long before we started working on the site, and to be given this recognition is proof that we’ve fully delivered on the promises we made to deliver an excellent landscape once we have finished our operations.
“Banks has had a long and very positive relationship with the Oulton, Rothwell and Methley communities, and in addition to the restoration of the Moss Carr site, we have contributed several hundred thousand pounds to a range of community groups and projects which are making a tangible, long-term difference to the facilities enjoyed by local people.
“We’re very proud of both the new landscape at Moss Carr and the facilities we’ve created in the area, which will be enjoyed by local people for decades to come, and also of the recognition they’ve now received through these prestigious awards.”