PLANS to clean up former ICI lime beds in Lostock Gralam will help to ‘avert climate disaster’, according to the company behind them.

Cheshire Land Limited is seeking planning permission to excavate lime and black ash from 40 acres of former lime beds in Lostock and recycle the material for use in the construction industry.

The remediation of one of Northwich’s biggest environmental eyesores will go before Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning officers next month.

And Cheshire Land claims that its trail-blazing project will tick three important green boxes by transforming the site into a visually attractive and bio-diverse landscape.

“This is an almost unprecedented example of a major environmental clean-up that does not need public money, but will deliver a massive public benefit,” said CEO John Wood.

“We’re starting initially with 40 acres containing nearly half a million cubic metres of lime and ash that are in our ownership, but ultimately, we would be willing to work with our neighbours Tata to clear and restore the whole site.

“We are working closely with Cheshire West officers and the Environment Agency to design and deliver a process that will deal safely and cleanly with a site that will otherwise require careful and intensive environmental management.

“And we are also delivering something that we know the local people and the parish councils want, which is a richer and more ecologically diverse habitat for wildlife.”

The lime-beds are a well-known landmark in the area, with a seven-metre-high black ash bund containing calcium carbonate - a waste product from the adjacent soda ash manufacturing process.

In addition to the remediation and ecological benefits, Cheshire Land believes that potentially the biggest environmental benefit will be the scheme’s contribution to saving CO2 and mitigating climate change.

A recent report revealed that if the cement industry was a country it would be the world’s second biggest contributor to global warming.

“By retrieving and recycling the lime on this site we are reducing the quarrying, transportation and processing impacts associated with the mining of limestone,” John added.

“If we are serious about averting climate disaster, then we have to be more imaginative, resourceful and committed in the way we salvage and re-use what we once saw merely as waste.

“We’re showing what can be done here, but the potential for a greener and more sustainable economy is enormous.”

Cheshire Land is hopeful that planning permission will be granted next month and that remediation work can start on site early in the summer.