Registered Charity Number: 1037414

Spring Report to the Trustees.

July 5th, 2020 in featured by Noreen Shears

It has been somewhat unusual basking for most of the months of April and May in sunny weather in the garden in Edgbaston. Warm with the butterflies, bees and other creatures that surround us in this mini Eden. Extremely fortunate to have such a place to enjoy during lockdown. Even luckier now we are venturing out to visit new projects, a haven to return to.  I am delighted that the Trust is already engaging in exciting prospects that come about with new locations visited and prospective new projects.

The time spent in isolation has been a limiting factor in our physical activity and although we have not been idle, far from it, the pulling together of various strands that make projects alive and viable has been a little difficult.

We have been fortunate in that where projects have needed ongoing maintenance and a careful watch kept on site, such as the Tar Pit at Cinderhill our helpers based close by have been willing and able to watch over and care for them. And in the Cinderhill case send photographic updates and text reports, plus phone updates.

This has allowed me to make nest boxes, nurse a pigeon squab, sculpt, paint, and make pottery. I have also attended to the Trust’s business.


The Tar Pit trial is still active with the help of Sophie and Nathan who have visited the site at least on a weekly basis. They have carried out maintenance of rabbit fencing, shooed off deer’ monitored amphibian and reptilian life across the site. They have watered the willows twice during the protracted dry spell of 9 weeks. The volume used being 20M3 on both occasions. The willows are growing well.

We have met with Harworth Estates on site once since the lockdown. They are pleased with our results so far.

The Environment Agency granted us a dispensation for the trial of treatment of waste at the Tar Pit. They are at present considering if the project can continue with a further dispensation or if we will need a license with fees having to be paid. This is a concern as it might require us to register as waste handlers.


We have met the MD of Fuchs UK Ltd, the company who bought the Silkolean Lubricants company 30 years ago. The original source of the acid tars that we are tackling at Cinderhill. There are up to eight other sites of concern around Belper including some the Chevin and Firestone Hill, a well-known beaty spot and popular walking area.

We have already done some preliminary testing at two of these sites where the contamination is as bad and of a similar nature to that at Cinderhill.

South Wingfield Church Flooding.

The problems of flooding are easily sorted if the Environment Agency agrees with our recommendations, but as the old river passes close to and through gardens and a new sluice would need to be put in place this may not be as easy as one might think. The Fisheries officers are against all structures that channel river flow and the owners of the gardens may well prefer the church and churchyard to flood.

There is more to be discussed and much to be achieved. It might be easier to introduce coypu to the area to do the work ‘accidently’.

Whaley Bridge.

Victorian water pump, Whaley Hall. (Photo RG)

A visit to Whaley Bridge regarding the loss of water supply to the Brookfield Pond. The visit shed light on an interesting side issue from the actions taken to stop the town being inundated by the failing Canal and Rivers Trust Toddbrook reservoir dam last year.

The inability of the organisation to control their engineers and their engineers being high handed in return to the injured party is not an attractive attribute for a charitable organisation.

Testing Oil Eater.

A company has sent us a sample of ‘Oil Eater’ a proprietary reagent to destroy oil and tar. It has some interesting abilities, and tests will continue through June /July, but the makers will not say what active ingredients it contains. A pet hate of mine. It appears to contain high levels surfactant and smells pleasant.

Trent Rivers Trust.

We have been in conversation with the Trent Rivers Trust regarding several issues, the main one being the remediation of pollution and restoration of three lakes known as Pennytown Ponds at Somercotes. These originally were part of a pleasure grounds for a large house and probably also acted as a set of reservoirs for a mill or mills downstream.

We visited the site and found a remarkably interesting set of pons and fascinating set of problems and opportunities set in the middle of an industrial estate. We also visited another large pond on the edge of a retail park which is being badly affected by large volumes of carpark runoff and siltation. Answers to both sites’ problems have been outlined.

Environment Agency.

Our work on Crich is held up at the moment, but discussion with the Agency suggests that the arsenic levels are concentrating.

We will be showing the Agency the tar pits on the high ground above Belper once they are allowed to so.

Coal Authority.

The Coal Authority have announced that they are about to carry out an evaluation of the Nottinghamshire Coalfield to the north of the City to consider the potential use of the heat within the waters of the flooded workings. On social media and to individuals who have contacted us we have praised the Authority for getting ready to benefit the local and national economy in this way. We have praised them for their similar works in South Wale, Durham, Tyne and Wear and in Scotland.

We have not been at all deprecating of the organisation but have explained that as a quasi-government organisation it takes time, sometimes a great deal of it to move thinking on. The Trust having introduced the Coal Authority to the concept on 1996.

I hope we might be involved in one or some of the projects helping the process advance.


We are now monitoring the volume of hits and other information that is available from the web server. Noreen Shears who has taken on our site’s operation informs us that we are receiving up to 7000 visitors a week and some of our postings are receiving more than 500 visits. The spread of visitors is remarkable with visits from more than 50 countries around the world.

It is a spur to keep up output of articles, papers, and blog bits. It is also encouraging us to bring parts of the site up to date.

Social Media.

The Trust is being seen on a near daily basis on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. It is a time-consuming operation, but we know that we are followed by interested parties around the globe. There are few countries where we do not have followers, connections, or friends. The feedback shows that over 500 a day see our posts.


The Trust has been in discussions with ministries and other agencies regarding the wide-ranging locust migrations across much of East Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and India. Our involvement has stemmed from the need to limit or not use pesticides at all on the swarms that are at present spreading over tens of square kilometres of land and following monsoons and changing wind directions. The UNFAC are at a loss to their control and the use of old stores of DTT have been considered. The effect on the populations of people, livestock, fauna and flora could be devesting and even more damaging that the swarms themselves.

We have talked with organisations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen, Oman, Iran and India. One sidelight of the problem is that many swarms are following the routs through or around arid/desert regions using the plantings put in place to regreen the deserts and fight desertification.


The people we worked with in Uganda in 2011/12 have now developed plans through their not for profit company to develop a village seedbank operation in the Sembabule area. We know the area well through our work on the lake at Kakinga.


We have been talking with a group of Kenyan agricultural specialists about the tea growing districts about Mt Kenya, their need to develop community engagement of the water catchments that emanate from and around the slopes of the mountain and the ways of tackling deforestation, including stability and runoff problems.

South Africa.

Again, we have been asked about minewater and possible damage to surface and groundwaters around the City of Johannesburg, we have been asked several times but hopefully this time positive results may ensue going forward.

Fund Raising.

The funding of the work of the Trust would appear to be reliant on donations from funding trusts going forward. All commercial funding has for the time being ceased. Government charity aid has not been forthcoming as the moneys have been needed to support community and national projects to support corona sufferers or those affected by the trauma of lockdown.

The future funding is not too daunting at the present time, but a reserve is to be built to service projects as and when they require physical inputs by the Trust.

Denby Pottery.

The glaze pit at the pottery is in need of stabilisation and treatment to hold back metals that otherwise might enter the wider natural environment. Just before lockdown we had been informed that we were asked to look at the problem using natural methods like those we are employing at Cinderhill.


The flora section of the Trusts library has now been catalogued. We will be putting the searchable catalogue on-line at a future date. Ayse, who is undertaking this task dreads the never-ending purchasing of relevant books. The next part of the project is the cataloguing of the geology and hydro geological sections.


We were meant to be delivering papers at three conferences this summer, sadly they have been cancelled. One has so far been rearranged and will be held in Istanbul in August 2021.

I look forward to the Universities reengaging with the world as there are several students who have and expect our help.

Tailings Dams.

It has been brought to our attention that the US Geological Survey have cited and quoted from our publication on Disasters and Minewater (2012) in a recent report on the state of tailings dams in the US and another on global issues of mining.

Future Date.

The Trust has been asked to participate in a Mining Journal Mine Closure webinar in July.

Diary Date.

The following Trustees Meeting is on the 22nd September. Hopefully, it might be at Paul’s offices at 10.00 or otherwise on Zoom.

Author: Noreen Shears

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