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20 North East historic sites added to 'at risk' register

Twenty historic sites across the North East have been added to an 'at risk' register due to their condition.

English Heritage publishes an annual report which identifies listed buildings and historic sites most at risk of loss or decay.

Since last year, 27 sites have been removed from the list after investments of £768,000 in the region.

In the North East:

  • 8 buildings or structures have been taken off the Register and 5 have been added.
  • 4 churches and places of worship have been taken off the Register and 9 have been added.
  • 14 archaeological sites have been removed from the Register and 3 have been added.
  • 1 conservation area, Spittal in Berwick upon Tweed, has been removed from the Register this year, 3 conservation areas including Alnwick, Northumberland and Chester-le-Street, County Durham have been added.
St James Church, Benwell Credit: English Heritage
  • The 13th century Church of St Andrew Winston on the banks of the River Tees has been added to the list this year. There are several structural issues in the building and the roof needs repairing. The congregation has agreed a repair project. The work is underway with financial help from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and is due to be completed by 2015.
Hamsterley Hall,Hamsterley Mill,Rowlands Gill,County Durham. Credit: English Heritage
  • Hamsterley Hall has suffered from decades of decline leaving the property with an estimated repair bill of £4m. The hall was already on the Heritage At Risk register but is now classified at the highest level of risk.
Coquet Island, Northumberland Credit: English Heritage
  • Coquet Island is one of a number of remote islands off the Northumberland coast. The remains of a monastic cell and a medieval tower have been removed from the Heritage at Risk register this year after a repair project and grant of £93,000 from English Heritage.

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Former pit goes back to nature

Easington Colliery, which closed in 1993. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A new proposal aims to breathe new life into an old coal mine with plans to turn land in Easington Colliery into a nature reserve.

The former colliery, on the outskirts of the village towards the coast, closed in 1993 and the site was landscaped for wildlife and recreation six years later.

Now, proposals have been unveiled to declare the land, which is owned by Durham County Council, as a local nature reserve to help protect the site for future generations and get more local people involved.

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are a great place for families to enjoy and to interact with the natural environment.

By formally declaring the site as a nature reserve we would be protecting it in the long-term and providing an accessible recreational facility in Easington as well as allowing local groups to help offer environmental learning and health-based events for the whole community.

– Cllr Neil Foster, the council's Cabinet member for economic regeneration

The site boasts a high conservation value as it contains species such as the common toad, skylark and dingy skipper butterfly.

It also features many different types of habitats including woodland, ponds and lowland meadow.

As well as highlighting the area's natural qualities, confirming the site as a LNR will also help attract future funding to further improve public access and nature conservation.

Consultation with the local community has shown strong support for the plan with many residents expressing an interest in getting involved. It has also been welcomed and backed by Natural England.

The proposal is due to go before members of Durham County Council's Cabinet when they meet at County Hall later today (October 15).

Northumberland building world's longest undersea cable

A billion pounds is to be spent building the world's longest undersea electricity cable from Northumberland.

The 700 mile long link will connect electricity supplies from Blyth to Norway, and onto Germany.

It is expected to create hundreds of jobs for the region by 2020.

The process involves a thick twist of wire which lies under the seabed.

It is called an interconnector - and there are already four of them linking the south coast to Holland and France, as well as the west of the country to Ireland.

But this project is far more ambitious. It will be the longest subsea interconnector in the world linking us to Norway and Germany.

It will take around three years for the link to be built from the Northumberland coast to Norway.

It will be three metres under the seabed and the whole thing would carry around one and a half gigawatts of electricity.

I think it is good news.

I think one of the big concerns about renewable energy is the security of supply.

This increases our security of supply, gives us the opportunity to export when its windy like today when we've got a surplus of wind power and also gives us the chance to import hydro-power from Norway in times of low wind in the North East.

– Tony Quinn Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

The end of the wire will be here at East Sleekburn near Blyth. But the plans are part of a larger scheme for the south east of Northumberland.

The wasteland where we're currently standing will be transformed.

There will be a large connector station here and then there will be 750 miles of cable running to this point to Norway and the overall plan for the estuary will be to bring in over 1000 jobs in the energy industries into Blyth.

– Peter Mcintyre Arch The Northumberland Development Company

Professor Phil Taylor is from the institute of sustainability at Newcastle University. He's in favour of the project but says maintaining power supply is key.

I guess you could argue by having this interconnector we could become more reliant on other countries.

If we lost that interconnector it might mean we would lose supply and therefore we'd have to make sure there was a balance making best use of the interconnector but not becoming overly reliant on it.

– Professor Phil Taylor, Institute of Sustainability at Newcastle University

The cable will carry enough electricity to boiling more than half a million kettles at any one time. Work will start in 2017 with a view to complete it in 2020. Frances Read ITV News Blyth.

View Frances Read's full report below:

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Whitby's piers "could collapse at any time"

The government's being urged to take Credit: PA Images

There are warnings that one of the piers which protects Whitby could "collapse at any time" as a plea for urgent government funding is made to protect the town. An appeal's been made to the Government for 3.8 million pounds of emergency funding to save the town's two landmark piers, amid warnings the situation is now "critical". A delegation of local politicians has told the Government that the harbour and surrounding homes and businesses could be at risk unless there is swift action.

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