Banks Mining creates wetlands and the Gallagher Group creates farmland
Oct 28th 2015
Ten-year landscaping project to restore Leeds opencast mine is completed
A ten-year landscaping project on the site of a former opencast mine near Leeds has created new wetlands, a new avenue of trees, around 6.5km of new hedges, a new area of parkland, and one of the largest new broadleaved woodlands in the area. The 200 hectare site is situated between Methley and Rothwell to the south-east of Leeds. The ten-year project, which was recently completed, has been praised by Leeds City Council for its quality and effectiveness.
The Moss Carr site was mined by Banks Mining, part of the Durham-based Banks Group, who mined over a million tonnes of coal between 1997 and 2004. Initial restoration work was completed in 2005 and this was followed by a ten-year management plan to enhance the landscape and public access to the site. The plan was agreed with Leeds City Council’s Planning Department and implemented by Banks Mining in partnership with Mexborough Estates.
The new woodlands include 43,000 broadleaved trees covering an area of 30 hectares. Max Rathmell, Minerals, Waste and Contaminated Land Manager at Leeds City Council, said: “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 a good range of herbaceous plants to be found, while the main pond on the site is simply a delight to behold.”
The Moss Carr restoration project was named as the winner of the Landscape category at the 2012 Leeds Architectural Awards and the leader of the judging panel said 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.”
Mark Dowdall, Environment and Community Director at the Banks Group, said: “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.”
A number of footpaths have been reinstated on the site, including a section of the Leeds Country Way, with new features such as green lane hedging and direction markers to assist public access. Max Rathmell at Leeds City Council said the council has enjoyed working with the company on the restoration and management of the Moss Carr site. “Banks Mining have shown that coal working can take place within an attractive semi-rural landscape,” he said.
For more on this story, see the Agg-Net website.
A £1 million tunnel helps to conserve a bridle path at Hermitage Quarry in Kent
The Gallagher Group has been in the news recently for two projects. At the recent ‘Quarries and Nature 2015’ event, organised by the Mineral Products Association, Gallagher Aggregates was highly commended for its work at Workhouse Quarry, near Maidstone in Kent. The company handled the filling and restoration of the quarry and its sister company now farms the land. At the awards ceremony, the judges said: “The site was filled with inert construction waste that could not be recycled. Today, the completed land form includes a wildlife corridor with hedgerows linking two older woodlands, as well as a drainage pond that provides another valuable habitat.”
In further news, the company has secured a further 25 years of quarrying at Hermitage Quarry, also near Maidstone in Kent, with the construction of a tunnel that links the current quarry with a new westerly extension. The quarry supplies Kentish ragstone aggregate and building stone. The tunnel was required by planning to allow local residents and horse riders to continue to use an established bridle path. Measuring 100m in length, 16m in width and 15m in height, the tunnel cost £1 million to construct and took nine months to complete.
Pat Gallagher, Chair of the Gallagher Group, said at a ceremony to mark the tunnel’s opening: “Today is about celebrating our past, and the quality of our quarrying and commitment to restoring the land once we have removed the Kentish ragstone. It’s also about looking forward to the next 25 years and the work that we will do as a family-run business to deliver on our promises and restore the land back to what it was, or better. Many of the fields around the quarry have already been quarried and today they are productive farmland.” He also said that the planning permission for the quarry’s extension has been the catalyst for new jobs and the investment of £9 million in new equipment, plant and vehicles, as well as providing the tunnel.
Councillor Mark Dance, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “Pat and his team have built a business that Kent can be truly proud of. Not only is Hermitage Quarry producing the Kentish ragstone needed by the construction industry, it provides the indigenous building stone for use in new-build and restoration projects, and is providing important employment for local people.”
For more news of quarry restoration projects, see last week’s news item “Mineral Products Association celebrates quarry restoration at ‘Quarries and Nature 2015′”.