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22nd December 2011

Caulmert have won an exciting and innovative project with the Coal Authority to develop method statements and procedures for creating artificial soils on old colliery waste tips. The proposal is to use ochre sludge from minewater treatment, together with green waste or sewage sludge to form a soil for subsequent biomass crop planting on former tips. Thousands of tons of ochre sludge are produced each year, when treating drainage from closed mines.

Previous research sponsored by the Coal Authority has shown that the ochre potentially binds phosphate within the soil so that it is not leached by rainfall, but still keeps it available for plant uptake. Incorporating ochre within the top layer of colliery shale would dramatically decrease the amount of fertiliser required when subsequently planting a crop.

Restoring barren former tip sites for renewable energy crops both improves areas of currently ‘waste’ ground, while reducing the country’s carbon emissions. To achieve this will require liaison with a range of stakeholders. Having these agreements and procedures in place will enable subsequent biomass planting to go ahead producing widespread environmental benefits.

About our client: The Coal Authority

The Coal Authority is an Executive Non Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and was established by Parliament in 1994.

The Authority is the public body responsible for improving the water environment from the effects of past coal mining and manages over 50 mine water treatment schemes throughout the coalfield areas of Britain.

Working closely with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency the Authority has developed a programme to remediate Britain’s most significant mine water impacts to improve both the nation’s water courses and the environment for communities.”

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