Dinnington Scouts flock to habitat improvement project at local surface mines

May 30, 2013 | Brenkley News

Members of a Northumberland scout group are going back to nature to help improve the habitats enjoyed by local birdlife.

Ten members of the 1st Dinnington Scout Group are working with regional developer The Banks Group around the building and erection of new bird boxes around Banks’ Brenkley Lane and Shotton surface mines.

The 10-13 year-old Scouts have been working with ecologist Alan Jones of AES Ecology and the Banks team on a project to build and put up around 50 additional boxes within the woodland surrounding the two operational sites.

The work is being carried out as part of Banks’ Biodiversity Action Plan, progressive restoration and landscaping programmes, which will also create new wildlife corridors to link with other nearby habitats.

More than 20,000 new trees have already been planted by Banks in and around the periphery of the Brenkley and Shotton sites over the last two years.

As part of their work towards restoring the parts of the site where work has been completed, further planting of around 12,000 additional trees is scheduled to take place next winter on the areas currently being restored.

A number of more mature trees have also been translocated to the site from elsewhere on the Blagdon Estate, in order to provide a mixed woodland environment, with new hedgerows also being added in where required.

When restoration is complete, the site will be a mixture of agricultural land and new woodland, and work to return the first of the topsoil and subsoil, which has been stored elsewhere on the site from which it was originally removed, is currently taking place.

The 1st Dinnington Scouts on site at Brenkley Lane

Scout leader Geoff Hayes says: “All the boys and girls live locally, but none of them have been into this area previously.  It’s been very valuable for them to both be part of this project and to see how the environment in which they’re working is comprised, and we’re very pleased to have been able to take up Banks’ invitation to be part of this interesting and important project.”

Katie Perkin, communications manager at The Banks Group, adds: “Taking a progressive ‘restoration first’ approach to our work in this way, rather than waiting until all mining operations are completed on the site, minimises the time it takes to restore and improve the land and allows us to take a proactive, long-term approach to ecology, habitat creation and landscape management.

“The needs of local wildlife and the habitats in which they live are a central part of all our operations and restoration plans, and the work that the Dinnington scouts have been helping us to undertake will further enhance these habitats that birds in the area enjoy.”

Banks recently revealed plans to mine a total of around a million additional tonnes of coal at the Brenkley Lane and Shotton sites, which will help sustain around 200 local jobs and which would enable the company to continue its support for local facilities through the Banks Community Fund, which has already seen £700,000 given to groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last nine years.

A planning application for the Shotton South West scheme is expected to be submitted to Northumberland County Council within the next few weeks, with a planning application for the Brenkley Additional scheme being submitted to both Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council around the same time.

Further surveying work will be carried out on the second new area at Shotton, known as Shotton Triangle, over the next few months before detailed proposals are announced.

Anyone wanting more information on the new Shotton or Brenkley Lane proposals should contact the Banks Mining development relations team on 0191 378 6100, or via brenkley@banksgroup.co.uk or shotton@banksgroup.co.uk

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