Community reaps its reward for the long years of noise

Families in a Northumberland village are watching a former opencast coal mine being transformed into a new community park.

Families in a Northumberland village are watching a former opencast coal mine being transformed into a new community park.

People in Pegswood fought an unsuccessful campaign to stop the 170-acre mine from opening in the 1990s, but are now about to reap their reward for putting up with more than five years of coal extraction.

The Pegswood Moor site is being turned into a community park, wildlife haven and recreational space covering an area the size of more than 50 football pitches.

Yesterday, the first phase of the project was opened by Wansbeck MP Denis Murphy at a ceremony attended by more than 70 representatives of the local community.

Mining company The Banks Group started work at Pegswood Moor in May 1997 to extract coal which would otherwise have been sterilised by plans for a new road linking the A1 near Morpeth and Ashington.

By the time work ended last year, about 1.4m tonnes of coal had been extracted, enough to generate electricity to power four million light bulbs for a year. It also yielded 84,000 tonnes of fireclay which was used to make 28 million bricks, enough to build 1,823 semi-detached houses.

Now the site is being restored to farmland and converted into the Pegswood Community Park, which has been designed with help from villagers, local councils, anglers and wildlife experts.

The park includes a dedicated nature reserve, a new woodland and ponds. Phase two, due to be completed next year, will provide a fishing and boating lake, an amphitheatre sculpted out of the landform and a footpath link from Pegswood to Morpeth.

Yesterday a Banks Group spokeswoman said: "The aim is to provide a balance between landscape and ecological enhancement, as well as facilities for the community to enjoy pursuits including walking, riding, cycling, fishing and boating."

 

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