Rory Stewart MP and DEFRA Minister for the Environment and Rural
Affairs has officially opened an innovative treatment works which uses
the natural environment to clean metal-rich water from an abandoned
metal mine, located at Force Crag near Keswick. The scheme will clean
up a 10km stretch of river, preventing three tonnes of metals,
including zinc, cadmium and lead, from entering Bassenthwaite Lake
each year. The scheme will bring up to £4.9 million in environmental
benefits to Keswick’s water and wildlife while boosting tourism and
the local economy.

Funded by Defra, the scheme is part of the Government’s £8.5 million
investment in low-cost solutions to tackle water pollution caused by
abandoned metal mines that pollute over 1000 miles of rivers in
England. The concept was developed by Adam Jarvis and his team at
Newcastle University and delivered by the Coal Authority in
partnership with the Environment Agency, the National Trust , the Lake
District National Park Authority and others.

Rory Stewart said: “I’m delighted to be here today in this incredible
landscape to open Europe’s first treatment scheme, using the natural
environment to clean metal-rich water from the Force Crag abandoned
mine. This will improve local water quality while still maintaining
the beauty of this truly unique site. It’s also an unbelievably
impressive example of partnership working, bringing together Defra,
the Coal Authority, the Environment Agency, the National Trust, Lake
District National Park Authority and others to bring this world
leading scheme to life. I very much hope that we can see more of these

Stephen Dingle, Chair, Coal Authority, said: “Our experts prevent and
treat water pollution from Britain’s abandoned coal and metal mines,
managing over 70 mine water treatment schemes to protect and improve
over 350km of rivers and preventing important sources of drinking
water from being polluted. Working with our partners we’ve now built
and are managing our first ever passive metal mine water treatment
scheme to address the pollution which comes from Force Crag Mine in
the Lake District National Park.”

Environmental Engineer Dr Adam Jarvis, Newcastle University, said:
“Newcastle University’s design of the water treatment process at Force
Crag followed more than 10 years’ research and development, starting
in the laboratory and culminating in this unique large-scale treatment
system. Working in partnership, it’s a great example of undertaking
research to resolve a real world problem – pollution from abandoned

Keith Ashcroft, of the Environment Agency said: “We were delighted to
be involved in the Force Crag treatment system. Our rivers are the
healthiest for 20 years, and we are working hard to maintain what we
have achieved so far and to further improve water quality and

The Force Crag Mine worked for zinc, lead and barytes from 1835 until
1991 and was the last working mine in the Lake District. Now
abandoned, it is a Special Scientific Interest site, a Special Area of
Conservation and a scheduled monument.

Print Friendly and PDF