Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has been getting involved with the grass roots after carrying out the opening ceremony for the second phase of a country park in South East Northumberland.
Mr Lavery was on site at the Pegswood Country Park to plant a commemorative tree at an event to mark the official completion of restoration and landscaping work at the 36.5 hectare site by regional employer Banks Mining, and the handover of its ongoing management to environmental charity Groundwork North East & Cumbria.
Banks Mining has 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.
Regional employer Banks Mining has 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.
Over 1.4kms 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 bio-diversity 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 finalised 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.
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 practise by Northumberland County Council.
Ian Lavery MP says: “I was delighted to officially open phase II of the Pegswood country park. 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 the excellent environmental charity, Groundwork North East & Cumbria, to maintain and manage. I know Groundwork North East & Cumbria will do a great job is developing the park and will also provide job opportunities to local people.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “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.”