Work to remove and recycle a 100-tonne bridge that currently spans a Northumberland country road is underway.

Banks Mining, part of The Banks Group, has commissioned Northumberland County Council’s construction team to work on the removal of the 32m bridge which sits above the link road between Banks’ Brenkley Lane surface mine near Dinnington on the Newcastle/Northumberland border and the site compound on the other side of the C357.

A temporary road is currently being built alongside the C357 to allow traffic to continue using the route while the work is being done, with traffic lights now in place to help ensure workers’ safety.

The bridge itself, which lies between the Milkhope Centre and the Horton Grange Hotel, is expected to be removed towards the end of June, with a large crane being brought to the site to facilitate the required work.

In the spirit of recycling and reusing, the bridge will now be checked, galvanised and re-used by previous owners Mabey Hire Services before being used on another project elsewhere in the country.

The whole project, which will also include the creation of a temporary footpath around the bridge area and the redirection of the site’s utilities, is expected to take around three months to complete.

Banks Mining began working the Brenkley Lane site in 2010 and completed coaling nine years later.  Since then, it has been undertaking a comprehensive programme of landscaping and restoration work, which has included the planting of almost 9,800 trees and over 8.3 kilometres of new hedgerow as well as the creation and improvement of dozens of new wildlife habitats.

Grants totalling more than £250,000 have also been awarded from the Brenkley Lane surface mine community fund to a wide range of local community groups in Newcastle City Council’s Castle Ward and Northumberland County Council’s Ponteland East Ward as part of Banks’ commitment to provide positive, tangible long-term benefits from its operations.

Jeannie Raine, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The final stages of activity at and around our surface mines are planned in just as much detail as the preparatory and coal extraction stages, and the removal of the bridge is a real landmark in their execution.

“The bridge has served our operations well for more than a decade, ensuring that large vehicles can move freely between the site and the compound without disrupting other local traffic, and it’s great to know that it will recycled and reused elsewhere.

“We’re very pleased to have commissioned Northumberland County Council’s expert construction team to carry out the required work around the bridge and they have made a fast start preparing surrounding infrastructure that’s required before it can be removed.

“Landscaping work at the Brenkley Lane site has gone extremely well and we’re proud of our track record of restoring every single one of the 113 surface mines we’ve worked over the last four decades.

“Providing funding support to local good causes is central to our long-term ‘Development With Care’ approach, and we’ve been able to make a terrific difference to the facilities available to people living in the communities around Brenkley Lane over the last decade.”