Durham project wins Euro praise

Coastline previously ruined by coal-mining waste comes second in European landscape award.

Restored coastland that had been scarred by coal waste almost became Europe's most highly-praised landscape after narrowly missing out on first prize in an award.

Durham Heritage Coast, a former industrial wasteland, was runner-up in the Council of Europe Landscape Awards and was judged "an excellent model for the regeneration of degraded coastal areas".

Fourteen countries competed for this year's biennial award, which was won by the Carbonia Project, a sustainable landscape upgrade in Italy.

The heritage coast, which runs from Sunderland to Hartlepool, became known as the "black beaches" after being marred by mine waste. It was used in the films Get Carter and Alien 3.

Durham Heritage Coast, a partnership of authorities, agencies and community groups, removed 1.3m tonnes of coal spoil over a 10-year period, said project officer Niall Benson. The coast was named UK Landscape of the Year last November.

The Landscape Institute managed the UK award. President Jo Watkins said: "We should recognise the importance of landscapes and their value to society. Durham Heritage Coast is an extraordinary transformation that contributes on so many levels."

KeyStat - The number of countries that competed in this year's European Landscape Award, including Italy, France, Hungary and Norway - 14

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