Cossington-based construction company Merriman is principal contractor for a ground-breaking ecological community initiative

Transforming a disused colliery spoil tip in north Nottinghamshire into a country park. And the whole project is being filmed for a BBC documentary, to be shown later this year

Part of the project – at Newstead Village - includes the building of an eco ‘earthship’ visitor centre, with the main structure being made out of hundreds of old vehicle tyres. The tyre wall style construction will be one of the largest of its kind in the world when complete. It is attracting interest from Trent University, who are researching the technical implications of this build method.

This is how the tyre wall construction starts out
This is how the tyre wall construction starts out

The eco-build visitor centre will also have an earth roof to reduce water run-off and special glazing, thermal insulation, and an abundance of other environmentally sustainable technological features that will make the centre ultra-energy efficient. On completion the earthship will provide power back to the national grid.

“It’s an amazing project to be involved with,” said Mike Bailey, Project Manager at Merriman. “The workforce on the project comes from the local community who are effectively providing the labour. Volunteers are filling tyres with earth and then building under our on-site technical supervision.”

“When filled with earth the tyres have thermal properties that enable them to act as a heat store. Normally tyre fitters have to pay to dispose of tyres to landfill – so we were able to get 1,500 tyres delivered to build the main wall of the visitor centre, at no cost to the project.

“There are technical challenges associated with this type of build – we have brought in OPUS International to ensure all the relevant stress/energy calculations are met but it’s not every day you are asked to build something made of old tyres - hence the interest from Nottingham Trent University”

Film crews from the BBC record footage of local volunteers helping with the construction work, A documentary on the project will air later in the summer.

When completed in late May, the centre will have a variety of community uses including educational purposes to show how regeneration can be achieved using renewable materials. The earthship overlooks a fishing lake created by Merriman, which will also be managed by the local community. Revenues from the fishing lake will be used to help maintain the visitor centre.

Newstead Village won a place on the Big Lottery Fund and BBC’s Village SOS programme last year. Village SOS is an initiative designed to inspire a UK rural revival and it is funding rural villages to develop new business ventures that will breathe new life into their areas, create new jobs and improve the quality of life for local people. The BBC are filming to produce a documentary in June. This project will be one of six being featured from around the UK.

The creation of Newstead and Annesley Country Park is at the heart of Newstead’s Village SOS project. A company - Newstead Enterprise – made up of a consortium of three local charities – is overseeing the regeneration project.

Merriman has been the main contractor for the wider regeneration of the former Annesley Colliery site for three years, remediating the land, addressing contamination and stability issues and regenerating the environment around a series of lagoons now rich with birdlife.

Merriman - a family-owned business - specialises in remediation and construction work and is based at Cossington (