Tyne Rivers Trust
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Tackling the toxic legacy of metal mining

Metal mines played a major part in Britain’s history, but abandoned mines now pollute our rivers, harm aquatic life and are bad for tourism.

The Trust has been working with the Environment Agency and the Coal Authority to tackle the toxic legacy left by these mines. We’ve focussed on using green engineering to prevent sediments from abandoned spoil heaps being deposited in the rivers, particularly during periods of heavy rainfall. The long-term aim of this work is to establish vegetation on these slopes as this stabilises the sediments ensures permanent prevention of contamination arising from the sites.

Jack Bloomer, Deputy Director at Tyne Rivers Trust says: “Lead and zinc mining forms a fascinating part of the history of the North Pennines and has left its mark on the landscape of the region through remarkable engineering and man-made structures, many of which are still present today. However, abandoned mine waste contaminates the rivers from the source, right down to the estuary, and can cause significant environmental damage.

We have identified ten sites that are major contributors to this pollution and are working with the Environment Agency and the Coal Authority to address them through green engineering. This includes using log barriers and biodegradeable matting to stabilise the slopes, preventing sediment from entering the river and encouraging vegetation growth, which will be a long-term solution to the issues. This way, we can preserve the history of the region, while cutting pollution off at the source and ensuring cleaner rivers for future generations to enjoy.”

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