Villagers come up with leaking lake solution

VILLAGERS have drawn up their own plans for a ‘dangerous’ leaking lake to avoid thousands of lorry movements on rural roads.

Members of Hebron, Longhirst and Pegswood parish councils, as well as Morpeth Town Council, are concerned about proposals by Banks Mining to bring up to 700,000 cubic metres of rubble, soil and rock to the former Pegswood Moor surface mine to fill up the deep lake.

The feature had been included in restoration plans for the area, but has never filled up to the required level and is losing water through leakage.

Banks wants to bring waste from construction sites to fill the void, before creating a new landform, with a smaller lake, woodland or grassland.

However, the proposal would see between 40 and 80 lorries visiting the area each day for anything from two to seven years.

Now local communities have put forward their own solution that would involve using materials already available at the site, enabling the work to be carried out more quickly and with far less heavy traffic movements.

Longhirst parish councillor Peter Coates said: “Banks was proposing to fill the hole by importing thousands of lorry loads of material over a period of several years. The four local councils aren’t very happy about that.

“Our proposals are that the hole should be filled as quickly as possible because the site as it exists has been quite dangerous for several years now and we have regularly expressed our concern about it.

“We are not happy with the idea of thousands of lorries coming through Morpeth and Hebron. There is a very sensible alternative, which we have suggested to Banks and the county council, to use the material that came out of the hole that is currently stored to the west of the site.

“It has been grassed over and made into fields, but that is where the material is and we want Banks to use that as far as possible to substantially fill the hole.

“We think it can be done in less than a year and will substantially reduce, if not completely remove, the need to import material on thousands of trucks.”

The councils also say that no planning permission should be given for work until Banks explains why the lake has been such a problem and any future application should be supported by a comprehensive method statement, signed off by a qualified design engineer.

Talks are continuing with Banks and the company has agreed to carry out further consultation about the site.

However, bosses say the councils’ proposal may not be feasible.

Banks Mining Senior Development Planner David Gosling said: “The current status of the Pegswood Community Park lake does not meet the high standards of restoration to which we are committed and we are working as quickly as possible to rectify this situation.

“The vast majority of respondents to the public consultation exercise we carried out on this issue agreed with our view that importation of material to infill the lake void and create a new restoration landform was the best way of resolving the problem.

“The parish council has suggested using material from the site to infill the void, but our initial view is that this would not be a practicable solution for a number of reasons.

“We do not believe that it would be appropriate to dig up a large area of land that has just been restored, and there is also the issue that the land on which the site sits is not owned by Banks and we do not have any rights over it.

“We do not feel that concerns related to traffic implications of bringing material to the site would be significant as any importation would only account for a very small proportion of existing traffic flows on the roads which would be used.

“However, we have agreed to look at what the parish council’s suggestion would actually involve and are currently working on a report which will feed back to the relevant bodies.

“We are also continuing to investigate the reasons why the lake has not filled up as originally planned and will respond to the queries that the parish council has put to us on this point when this work is complete.”