High praise for firm

The British Land Reclamation Society delegation during their visit to Banks Group sites.
The British Land Reclamation Society delegation during their visit to Banks Group sites.

THE quality of restoration work carried out by a mining firm at its surface-mining schemes in Northumberland has been recognised by a party of visiting industry experts.

A delegation from the British Land Reclamation Society (BLRS) went along to some of Banks Mining’s sites to see how the company manages the land it utilises and the benefits of its restoration-first approach.

They included the operational Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines and the nearby recently-completed 46-hectare South Park on the Blagdon Estate, which formed part of Banks’ Delhi surface mine.

This land has been specifically restored to recreate a 200-year-old landscape that was lost decades ago. A plan of the estate from 1755 as well as aerial photographs from the 1940s were used by Banks to design its restoration.

The project was completed in early 2013 in the style of famed Northumberland-born landscape architect Lancelot Capability Brown, which had influenced the land’s original layout.

Mike Poremba, a Gateshead-based member of the BLRS’ executive committee, said: “Having these sites in such close proximity gave us a unique chance to see surface-mining operations in a number of different stages – from an operational site and one where restoration work is ongoing to an area which has been mined twice in the last 60 years and which is now being restored to its historical status.

“This excellent example of restoration work helps to bring the theory of our practice to life and the exchange of information we enjoyed through the day, especially about the history and current status of each of the projects, was extremely valuable to all our delegates.”

The group also visited the £3million Northumberlandia landform, which lies on land adjacent to the Shotton mine. It has become a popular attraction for county residents and visitors.

Mark Simmons, landscape architect at Banks Group, hosted the BLRS visit. He said: “A huge amount of careful planning and detailed work goes into our restoration schemes to ensure the final outcomes match our ambitions and we’re pleased to have got such a positive response to our work in the North East from these experts in their field.”