£750,000 safety work project starts at Greenside mine

Date: Saturday 18th May 2002

THE biggest project ever undertaken by the Lake District National Park Authority has got underway.

Contractors are at work at Greenside mine, Glenridding, to begin the major task of making the site safe. Future plans include an exhibition about the famous mine.

The first phase of the works will cost more than £750,000 and will involve

reshaping of the spoil heaps and repair of retaining walls and other

structures. Work needs to be done with great care as the site is part of a

Scheduled Ancient Monument and also adjoins the Helvellyn Site of Special

Scientific Interest.

The project is being funded by a partnership of the national park authority, North West Development Agency and Environment Agency.

Lead mining in the area dates from Roman times but the mineral was extracted commercially at Greenside for more than 140 years. It consistently used the most advanced technology of the time and, for a period, it was the second biggest producer of lead in the world. The mine closed in 1962 and is now owned by the national park authority.

The services of engineering consultants were contracted following a small

collapse in one of the tips. The investigation highlighted concern regarding

stability of the tailings material forming the spoil heap, collapse of some

of the retaining walls and serious deterioration of the revetments to the

Swart Beck water course. None of this is likely to pose any immediate

personal threat to anybody on the site, which has been closely monitored over the last three years.

The site contains elevated concentrations of lead and zinc, together with

traces of copper, barium, nickel, arsenic and cadmium. While the present

levels of release of these materials are well within the range occurring in

the natural environment, steps will be taken to reduce any possibility of

this material entering Ullswater in large quantities.

The work is expected to continue until late summer. It will involve a great deal of heavy vehicle movements and other activity. Walkers will be advised of alternative routes in the area and visitors warned to use caution near the

site.