Banks Mining complete Pegswood restoration
Local MP plants tree to mark official opening of phase two of Pegswood Country Park
WANSBECK MP Ian Lavery recently carried out the opening ceremony for the second phase of Pegswood Country Park in south-east Northumberland.
Mr Lavery was on site to plant a commemorative tree at the event marking the official completion of restoration and landscaping work at the 36.5ha site by Banks Mining, and the handover of its ongoing management to environmental charity Groundwork North East & Cumbria.
Banks Mining have established a £93,000 endowment fund to support the future management of the popular park, while Groundwork, which has a 99-year lease on the site, is now looking at ways in which it can be developed in the future for ever-wider community use.
Banks Mining have been working to complete phase two of the Pegswood Country Park since additional landscaping works were agreed with Northumberland County Council and Pegswood Parish Council in 2014.
More than 1.4km of new public footpaths have been added around the site, along with new park benches, while 575 bushes and trees have been planted along one side of the pond. Nectar-rich grasses have also been sown to encourage and support greater biodiversity among the insect population in the area.
Phase one of the park, which is located on land to the east of the former Pegswood surface mine, was delivered under Banks’ ‘restoration first’ principle in 2003, whilst the mine was still operational.
Banks had previously finalized the majority of the planned agricultural restoration and landscaping work on the operational area of the former Pegswood surface mine, which it operated between 1997 and 2005, but had been unable to complete the project’s second phase as originally planned due to the water level on the lake.
A range of restoration options for phase two were developed by Banks and discussed with local communities and representatives of the county and parish councils, and it was agreed that the existing landform and water level should be retained, with the lake area being landscaped with extra planting, footpaths, fencing and seeding.
Bedlington-based landscape and environmental contractors WL Straughan & Son Ltd were appointed to work on the project alongside Banks’ own landscape management team.
The five-year programme of management and aftercare that followed the agricultural restoration of the site was completed in spring 2012, and it is now used as an example of best practice by Northumberland County Council.
Ian Lavery MP said: ‘Banks Mining have done what they said they would do and created a well-used local park land on their former opencast coal mine site, and have now handed it over to an excellent environmental charity to maintain and manage.
‘I know Groundwork North East & Cumbria will do a great job in developing the park and will also provide job opportunities for local people.’
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director with The Banks Group, added: ‘The Pegswood Country Park is already very well used, and as the landscape matures in the years to come, it will become an ever more important leisure amenity for both local people and wildlife.’