The 2010 UK Landscape Award victor has been revealed. Full details of the winner and videos of all the nominees are here

UKLA winners Coralie Niven, Niall Benson, Trevor Stephenson and Christopher Quigley
UKLA winners Coralie Niven, Niall Benson, Trevor Stephenson and Christopher Quigley

The first ever UK Landscape Award, which took place at Liverpool’s historic St. George’s Hall on Monday evening, has concluded. The winner, which takes the title of UK Landscape of the Year, was the restoration of the Durham Heritage Coast project. Professor Dr Iain Stewart, broadcaster and geologist, presented the Award.

Niall Benson from Durham County Council accepted the award on behalf of the Durham Heritage Coast project. He said that collaboration and partnerships, and taking those relationships to heart, were key, and that it was important not to underestimate the amount of work that goes in to making it a success. “It’s not something you can pick off a tree,” he said. The project has been put forward to represent the UK in the European Landscape Awards in Strasbourg on March 2011.

Durham’s coastline has been suffering from over 100 years of tipping. Over 1.5 million tonnes of waste per year was dumped down the cliffs onto beaches and into the sea by the coal industry, brandishing the area ‘The Black Beaches’. So grim were these beaches, the film Alien – set on a barren extraterrestrial world – was filmed on them.

The Durham Heritage Partnership described the transformation of the coastline in their submission. “Where previously colliery waste was tipped onto the beach in enormous quantities, a costal path now leads you through a wonderful landscape mosaic of great natural, historical and geological interest with dramatic views along the coastline and out across the North Sea.”

Poet, radio presenter and one of the judges, Ian McMillan, summed up the views of the judges. “This is an internationally important exemplar for transforming a despoiled landscape through careful investment and enormous amounts of enthusiasm and hard work. A bold vision has created a landscape of beauty rich in wildlife and cultural heritage in which local communities can feel justifiably proud. This is the beginning of a renaissance which will enable towns and villages of this part of the former Durham Coalfield to develop a relevant new identity.”

Adrian Phillips, who is a member of the National Trust Board of Trustees and Ministerial appointee on the Cotswolds Conservation Board, was on the panel of judges. He said that the decision “was not an easy one to make” and that the judges were impressed at how all six shortlisted entries “exemplified what the European Landscape Treaty is all about”. To watch the ULKA shortlisted projects’ videos follow these links:

UKLA 2010 Introduction

Durham Heritage Coast

Baxter Park, Dundee

Gold Route, Sheffield

Heather & Hillforts Project

Lough Neagh Regeneration Project

Mersey Basin Campaign

Merrick Denton-Thompson, OBE, CMLI, began on a note that perfectly prompted everyone to look to the future of landscape. His keynote speech on the need for multifunctional landscapes was clear. “We are all too aware that society has worked against the natural environment for too long and that we are on the brink of a new deal to develop a true symbiotic relationship with natural systems. For those of us involved directly with the connection between people and natural processes, these are immensely exciting and challenging times.”

Photography: Diane Thompson

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