Praise for award-winning landscaping work at former Leeds surface mine site as ten-year aftercare period completes

September 23, 2015 | Hook Moor News

The quality and effectiveness of a ten-year landscaping project carried out at the site of a former surface mine to the South East of Leeds has been praised by Leeds City Council on its completion.

Banks Mining, part of the Durham-based Banks Group, mined over a million tonnes of coal at the 200-hectare Methley South and Moss Carr site between Methley and Rothwell between 1997 and 2004, and then completed initial restoration work during the following year.

A comprehensive aftercare management plan to enhance the landscape and public access to the site was agreed with Leeds City Council’s Planning Department as part of the overall planning application, and was put into action by Banks Mining from 2005 onwards, in partnership with Mexborough Estates.

Since then, one of the largest new broadleaf woodlands in the area has been created, which encompasses 43,000 trees on a 30-hectare part of the site, and which links up with existing woodlands, while the new Hugh Calverley playing fields were also added on land between the site and Rothwell Sports Centre.

Other new landscape features included new wetlands, a new avenue of trees, around 6.5 kilometres of new hedges and a new area of parkland, which was an extension to an existing parkland area.

A number of other footpaths, including a section of the Leeds Country Way, were also reinstated, with new features such as ‘green lane’ hedging and direction markers added to enhance their public value.

After completing his final tour of the Moss Carr site, Max Rathmell, minerals, waste & contaminated land manager at Leeds City Council, said: “Banks Mining has shown that coal working can take place within an attractive semi-rural landscape, and we’ve enjoyed working with the company on the restoration and management of the Moss Carr site.

“The new woodland has achieved some prodigious tree growth and a commendable degree of success, with the number of self-sown trees, particularly oak, being a pointer towards a healthy environment.  There is also good range of herbaceous plants to be found, while the main pond on the site is simply a delight to behold.”

In 2012, the Moss Carr restoration scheme was named as the winner of the Landscape category at the annual Leeds Architectural Awards, with architect John Lyall, who led the Architecture Awards judging panel, saying at the time: “This staggeringly ambitious project planned and executed so successfully by Banks Mining inspired the judging panel, and 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.”

The Banks Group has operated and restored over 110 surface mining sites across the UK over the last 39 years including more than 23 across Yorkshire.  It has also built three onshore wind farms within the county’s boundaries, and its fourth such scheme, the five-turbine Hook Moor wind farm near Leeds, is scheduled to be fully operational before the end of the year.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, adds: “The landscaping and restoration of our surface mines, which is tailored to the needs of each individual site, is just as central to their planning and operation as any other part of their development, and provides a great opportunity to deliver a range of environmental, ecological, habitat, tourism and recreational benefits.

“The restoration and management of the Moss Carr site was a hugely detailed and carefully-planned operation which was conceived long before we started working on the site, and 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.”

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