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Clean-up hits the right notes

As an illustration of the growing profile of the waste management industry, the sector is set to be heralded in a new musical extravaganza.

The subject of this concert is perhaps one of the biggest clean-up operations that has ever taken place in the UK, the restoration and regeneration of the East Durham coastline.

After suffering from 100 years of use as a tipping ground for four pits, during which time around 2.5 million tonnes of waste was dumped in the area every year, the Turning the Tide project was launched with the intention of cleaning the area up.

The concert of the same name tells the story of how local people and organisations tackled over 40 million tonnes of waste that had been tipped plus a plethora of abandoned vehicles and other blemishes.

After the four year project was completed in March 2001, it had seen the successful transformation of the coastline, with the removal of spoil heaps and debris from cliff tops and beaches, with large areas of arable land turned to magnesium limestone grassland.

The piece, commissioned by Durham Music Service charts how the 14 km stretch of coastline was transformed from a dumping ground for colliery waste mainly due to the endeavours of local people.

Paying testament to the work, it is the newest heritage coast in the UK, with the undeveloped stretches now managed so their natural beauty is conserved for future generations.

East Durham Youth Choir will perform the world premiere of Turning the Tide by Alan Simmons at Whitley Bay Playhouse in November, with the soloist, world-renowned and locally born opera star Sir Thomas Allen.

Choir conductor Victoria Harrison said: Alan Simmons is to be congratulated on rising so magnificently to the challenge of the commission, producing such a thoroughly researched and eminently singable piece.

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