Update on the proposed Nent Haggs mine water treatment scheme

Coal Authority

April 6
10:17 2016


Historical metal mining has left a legacy of pollution which is severely damaging the aquatic life in the River Nent. The River Nent is the worst polluted river in the region and the second worst in England for pollution from abandoned metal mines.

The proposed Nent Haggs mine water treatment scheme would use natural processes to remove lead, zinc and cadmium from the mine water before it enters the river. By removing the metals the scheme will help to restore life to the river improving the water quality and biodiversity.

The proposed scheme is similar to Force Crag mine water treatment scheme, which were already operating in the Lake District National Park. This scheme is successfully removing between 94% and 98% of the same metals from the mine water, improving the River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake Special Area of Conservation.

Force Crag mine water treatment scheme
Force Crag mine water treatment scheme in the Lake District National Park

Site selection

We have worked with the Environment Agency to undertake a detailed site selection process for the proposed scheme, which considered possible locations up to 1.5 km from the Haggs Mine and within 500 metres of the River Nent. Potential sites were assessed against a range of factors including landscaping, size, sustainability, engineering and environmental criteria. The Nentsberry site was selected because it was ranked the most suitable of all the options.

Proposed scheme

The proposed mine water treatment scheme has been designed to avoid or minimise as many adverse environmental effects as possible. A key environmental consideration was how the proposed scheme could be designed to fit more naturally within the local setting and its location within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

As a result of the consultations, the proposed mine water treatment ponds have been designed to look like natural water features within the valley.

A Landscape and Ecology Management Plan has been prepared for the proposed scheme that outlines the landscaping works proposed within the main site. The soft landscaping proposals will mitigate the landscape and visual effects of the proposed scheme and will enhance the habitats and biodiversity of the area.

We are continuing to take advice from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership about how the proposed scheme fits into the landscape, and from the Environment Agency to ensure the scheme meets all the relevant environmental requirements.

Community engagement

As the project has progressed - from initial scoping and feasibility, through to outline design - we have liaised with the local community and other stakeholders, providing information and updates as these have become available. We are committed to continuing to work with the local community to develop the project and to answer any questions.

To obtain feedback on the initial outline design, we sent questionnaires to local residents to seek views on the proposed scheme. The results from the survey showed that:

  • 71% of respondents supported the principle of the proposed mine water treatment scheme
  • 76% agreed that the design is appropriate for the proposed location

We also included several suggestions for wildlife habitat areas and footpaths.

Community information event

At the community information event in February 2016 we met residents, councillors and other stakeholders, provided detailed information about the proposals, listened to comments and answered questions. Since this event we have modified the proposed design and responded to individual enquiries.

To ensure that people had continued access to the information, the display boards about the proposed scheme have been on public view at Alston Town Hall since the community information event.

Further formal feedback on comments and questions raised at the event will be provided in April 2016 through both the planning application and on our website.

Planning application

We are aiming to submit the planning application for the proposed scheme to Cumbria County Council in mid-April. The planning application with supporting technical documents and drawings will be available to review at Alston Town Hall, at the Nent Hall Hotel and at Cumbria County Councils Planning Office in Kendal.


Some residents have raised concerns about the potential for odour from the scheme. Our experts and technical advisors are currently finalising details of an odour abatement plan to address the potential issues. This will form part of our planning application.

Details of this plan will be made publicly available in April 2016.

Further information

Please contact Cheryl Donohoe at the Coal Authority on 01623 637202 or email if you have any questions or comments.

For media requests please contact Joanne Wilson at the Coal Authority on 01623 637234 or email

Read more about the proposed Nent Haggs mine water treatment scheme.

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