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North Pennine metal polluted water clear up nearing completion

Work on water and abandoned metal mines projects in the North Pennines will be completed by Christmas, the Coal Authority has said.

Three projects to tackle the water pollution caused by historical metal mining at Garrigill culvert, Carrshield tailings dam and Nenthead car park, are all part of the Water and Abandoned Metal Mines (Wamm) programme.

They include stabilising river banks, reconnecting culverts and reshaping spoil heaps, to prevent several tonnes of lead, zinc and cadmium from entering the River Tyne each year.

Metal mines played a major part in Britain’s history, but abandoned mines now pollute our rivers and harm aquatic wildlife, such as fish and river flies.

In the Northumbria River Basin District they affect around 340km of watercourse, including the River Tyne, River Tees and River Wear, and their tributaries.

Contractors will be leaving the sites in the next few days before returning in January to finish the earthworks. They will return in spring to complete the final work, such as planting to encourage vegetation to grow.

Wamm is a partnership between the Coal Authority and the Environment Agency, funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The government’s 25 Year Environment Plan states that cleaning up chemical pollution from abandoned metal mines is a priority.

Last month the Coal Authority won the contract to clean up metal-polluted rivers across Wales.

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