Registered Charity Number: 1037414

Clean Rivers Trust Summer Season. 2019.

September 8th, 2019 in featured by admin


It has been a busy summer for the Trust with several issues being addressed as well as our major project in Derbyshire. The Trust has been looking at minewater as both an energy resource (which is now a normal but still hard proposal to have accepted) and again as an economic resource as an industrial commodity, lessoning the strain on normal water resources. We have been actively advising on issues in India via the internet alongside new contacts with the Department of Botany at Dakar University, Bangladesh. We are aiding the establishment of the Ecological Society of Bangladesh amongst other things. We have researched Moroccan aquifers and have now a better knowledge of water availability and methodologies that might be viable to stimulate the expansion of Phosphate production on sites where it is mined.

We have been assisting a public relations/advertising agency to access the River Seine in Paris with a litter collection craft which both the Port of London Authority and London 21 did not want on the River Thames. For the same client we have been advising on the parameters of a water quality online facility that will report on water Quality of the River Spey in Scotland.

The Trust has begun the transformation of a lagoon near Belper which was considered only suitable for draining and infilling as its water quality was too bad to be rectified (the view of major engineering, environmental and ecological consultancies). Our observations of the waterbody over a period of one year has shown that it is not, it is already a habitat of spectacular importance with one of the largest dragonfly larvae populations we have seen in 30 years.

Outline research has been carried out to assess our possible impacts on other acidic tar waste sites in Cheshire, North Wales, the West Midlands and at 6 other sites near Belper in Derbyshire.

Cinderhill, Derbyshire

Our thanks go to Harworth Group plc for their continuing support. The new council after May’s elections withdrew the councils ‘submitted’ Local Plan which included the decontamination of the Cinderhill Tar Pits,. A new Local Plan is in preparation.  By continuing with the remediation of the site Harworth demonstrate their commitment to the communities in which they are present.

Tar Pit 4

The project is demonstrating the greening of the acid tar pit: the compost and willows have carried out all that was required of them. The area is almost impregnable with growth of the willows up to ten feet tall, there has also developed lower branches and secondary growth from the root bases.

Professor Colin Snape of the University of Nottingham visited the site recently and said that the project had succeeded and had proved the methodology completely for use on such sites. Angela Haslam from the Environment Agency’s National Contaminated Land Group has also visited the site and is much taken with the project and the initial progress. She has said that we should look to work on other sites across the UK with similar contamination problems.

Middle Lagoon

There is a large lagoon on the Tar Pits site that is stated by consultants in reports to Amber Valley Borough Council that it is contaminated with similar material to our research site. This lagoon we have been monitoring now for twelve months and have noted that its water quality is far better and constantly improving over this time scale. The dragon fly larvae population is as already noted above is large. The water body though needs to be stabilised to stop further tar from entering it and allow a barrier between the tar and the water body to be established.

Harworth Group plc have asked us to carry out research into removing the threat of further tar entering the water and put forward a scheme to identify the area of the lagoon floor already effected by it.

Harworth have further asked us to agree with the Environment Agency a method of restoring that portion of the lagoon bottom coated in tar. They then wish for the scheme to be implemented this Autumn.

Environment Agency Perspective

As well as Angela Haslam, several other staff from the Environment Agency have now visited on numerous occasions both the Tar Pit Willows Project and the Middle Lagoon and have a good understanding of all the issues involved in both projects.  We expect agreement to be reached with the Agency over the lagoon restoration by September this year.

The Agency is interested with the outcomes so far with regard to the Acid Tar Pit No 4 and are interested in the outcomes that our methodologies may have if carried forward to rehabilitate the other four acid tar pits plus the tar spills that we have identified over the last 18 months.

Other UK Tar Pits.

The Environment Agency have flagged up two major acid tar pits that may be suitable for our attention, one near Wrexham in North Wales and the other at Hoole Bank in Cheshire. The latter we have carried out a review of and would be confident of being able to achieve, whilst the Wrexham site we have been aware of for some years and recognise that they may ideal for a project such as we have carried out at Cinderhill.

Fuchs the lubricants company have shown us 3 sites near Belper and told us of others close by that they inherited when they purchased Silkoline Lubricants several years ago. We have outlined both full solution outlines for two of these sites, also outlined a trial project to them. They will wait though for the results at Cinderhill before deciding if they wish to remediate their sites.

Fuchs also informed us of other acid tar sites in the West Midlands, near Wolverhampton and Walsall.


The Trust has been involved with minewater and the remediation of pollution from abandoned mines. With our involvement since 1991 in the issues and methodologies we have been involved in over 50 projects. Metalliferous and coal mines have both been our targets and our championing of the use of wetland remediation methods have found favour not just in the UK but in Europe, but across the world. We have worked with some of the largest miners and consultancies globally over the years.

We have also been aware of the need to be able to find uses for the waste waters at a period in history which is threatened by climate chaos, global warming and the need to not be profligate with water. This awareness has seen us championing the use of minewater as a resource, (in 1868 it was a regular potable supply to many communities) particularly for industry and its nature, heat as an energy resource.

The Trust was aware from 1992 of work carried out in the US (Radio Shack used a shallow set of flooded abandoned mine workings to heat a mall they were located in) and in Canada (Nova Scotia) where US Canners produced heat for their factory from the Springhill coal mine. The waters were used both to develop cooling systems for the towns Ice Stadium and heat for many homes and civic buildings.

The Trust took these ideas to the Coal Authority in 1995 and did so in meetings every year where we were told that it would not work in the UK up until 2014 when we were informed that the Authority knew all there was and that their trial at Dawdon (which we advised on the reason for it failing) was heating the laboratory and kitchen perfectly.

The Innovation Team at the Coal Authority was then formed to pursue heat projects from minewater.

The Trust has put forward more than 15 UK projects so far that were supported by local authorities and all have been blocked.

The Trust advised the Heerlen Project in 2010 regarding pipe and other blockages at the EU funded minewater heat project in Holland.

Financial Times Article

Peter sent me the following from the Financial Times of Tuesday 20th August, the Coal Authority outline their activities to use minewater sourced heat

  • Lanchester Wines warehouse use of heat ex mine in Gateshead NE (Company employs over 500)
  • 3 extraction shafts raise 39 litres a second for heating cellars via liquid NH3 heat exchangers.
  • 4 Mw system yields 6Kw of heat for each Kw of electricity used. £117K of CHP grant annually.
  • Second warehouse hit an improved source with 67 litres per second. £3.5 million investment on target for 4-year payback.
  • Cost £250K
  • Estimated 2 billion cube metres of warm minewaters in UK
  • Annual cost to coal Authority £18 million annually
  • Lisa Pinney, CEO, cites opportunities in horticulture, housing and leisure
  • Charlotte Adams at Newcastle Uni identifies large scale opportunities in heat
  • Coal Authority is working on a “Mine waters heat map” to exploit opportunities.
  • Bridgend Council is working on a mine water community heating project.
  • Mike Stephenson , BGS Chief Scientist, is working on similar project(s) in Glasgow



  • The cellars are air conditioned using the minewater and only brought CA in as they needed permission to enter the coal seams.
  • Minewater treatment costs the CA £18 million p.a., they are uncertain of ownership of water and heat so only at present want to work on waters pumped to waste for environment protection. They wish for income so are willing to sell heat.
  • Horticulture and fish farming, shrimps particularly are Coal Authority priority clients.
  • Newcastle and Durham universities have common interests via the late Paul Younger.
  • Minewater heat map will have little accuracy due to the lack of boreholes and temperature data.
  • Bridgend and Glasgow are two of three projects the CA wish to carry out as demonstrators. They say they are working with Nottingham City Council (3 to 4 years) but unable or unwilling to outline what scheme may be developed.

Coal Authority.

The Coal Authority see minewater heat as a resource now but marketing it is a different matter. With a total lack of confidence and as a government body uncertain how to progress income generating schemes.


The Trust has two possible schemes developing, outlined below.

University of Nottingham

The Jubilee Campus has flooded mine workings beneath the site. There are 4 mineshafts within the area of the site.

There is a need for CA involvement shortly, but the University needs to engage with the project from an estate’s management perspective and upwards. The involvement of BEIS might help energise the CA.

Welbeck Estates

Initial discussions with the estate, Derbyshire County Council and Bolsover District are taking place shortly.



Obstacles to the uptake of mine water heating and cooling

Banks (2018) listed several main obstacles to the uptake of mine water space heating and cooling, with an emphasis on the UK.

  • Perceived risk of ochre clogging of pumps, heat exchangers, pipelines and reinjection wells.
  • Risk of reinjected thermally spent (e.g. cool) water “breaking through” open mine pathways to the (e.g. warm) abstraction shaft or well.
  • Uncertainty over legal and licencing issues—including the guaranteed longevity of mine pumping operations and abstraction licences, and the legal risk of accruing future liability for mine water pollution.
  • Presence of a suitably dense long-term heating and cooling demand, with suitable heat emitters, in the vicinity of the mine. If this is associated with a new development, are conventional heating/cooling solutions already “locked in”?


The Trust has been and will continue to work with local authority and Indian Environment Agency staff on cleaning up the major lake in the centre of Chandrapur in Maharashtra State. It is suffering from slum sewage drainage, silt, litter and poor-quality sewage treatment.


As reported above the Trust is looking to work on several topics and schemes with Dakar University.


The Trust has examined in some depth the aquifers of the phosphate mining areas of Morocco. Though the water availability is low there are reserves that have not been recognised prior to research. This may allow several schemes to go forward. On site phosphate production, agricultural yield increase and increases in water availability for local populations.

Whiskey Barrel Litter Collector

The Trust was contacted by a major public relations firm to assist in a PR project originally on the Thames, but now on a French river, preferably on the Seine, including the use of a specially built water borne litter collector. If this project goes forward with our involvement a full report will go to the Trustees at the December meeting.

Author: admin

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