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Wildlife thriving at operational mine

Sand martin

Colony of sand martins takes up residence in Bank Mining’s Rusha surface coal mine in West Lothian

A WEST Lothian surface coal mine has become an unexpected haven for wildlife thanks to the approach of the site’s Scottish operators.

Banks Mining say their Rusha surface mine has recently supported a vast array of wildlife making home in features such as the mine’s settlement lagoons and in banks of deposited earth.

Peregrine falcons, whooper swans, oystercatchers as well as roe deer have all sought refuge in the working mine, but staff at the site say it is the most recent guests – a colony of sand martins – which have caught their eye.

Rusha site manager Ian Ritchie said: ‘At times it is quite amazing – the mine is bustling with wildlife that must view the site as something of a safe haven.

‘The new colony of sand martins has captivated many of the team of late as they’re eye-catching wee birds and are always on the move. The loose soil and patches of vegetation seem to provide the perfect habitat for them to feed and breed in.

‘We go to great lengths to ensure that we don’t impact the wildlife that make their home in the mine. For example, when oystercatchers recently laid eggs on the site, we cordoned off the area so that the working vehicles didn’t disturb them.’

The Hamilton-based employer has been operating at the Rusha site, near Breich, since 2012, as part of a seven-year project to extract coal from the site. Once coaling is complete, the 154ha site will be fully restored and landscaped to a mixture of woodland and agriculture.

Mr Ritchie added: ‘Our plans to fully restore the landscape at the end of our tenure will be strongly focused on creating habitats to benefit the local wildlife.

‘A good section of the land will be dedicated to diverse woodland with public footpaths created to encourage people to get out and enjoy the land and the wildlife.

‘We are committed to our ‘development with care’ ethos, which is evident in both our current endeavours and our future plans.’

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