EAST Durham’s Heritage Coast has been recognised in a Europe-wide competition and narrowly missed out on the prestigious main prize.
The coast, which stretches from Hartlepool up to Sunderland, was one of only three entrants to receive a formal Special Mention for its good work at the Landscape Award of the Council of Europe competition.
The coast received the runners-up award after being up against 14 strong entries from countries including Italy, France, Spain and Norway,
The awards jury described the coast as being of “great value and a source for inspiration”.
Judges noted the “extraordinary” results the coast has achieved since being transformed from a colliery waste tip for more than a century to a “wonderful and varied coastal landscape with great natural, historical and geological interest”.
Durham Heritage Coast officer Niall Benson said: “We are thrilled that this fascinating stretch of coastline has been recognised internationally for its value and beauty.
“It’s a strong endorsement of all the hard work undertaken by the Durham Heritage Coast Partnership and the local communities along the coastal strip.
“It’s an achievement for which everyone involved should feel justly proud.
“This is a very special landscape, full of great interest, but on its most basic level it’s simply a pleasure to spend time here.
“To walk along any of our coastal footpaths and enjoy the dramatic views out over the sea is a privilege and hopefully through this competition even more visitors will now be aware of the beauty on their doorstep.”
The coast earned the right to enter the international competition after being awarded the UK Landscape Award last November.
The Council of Europe recognised the coast for activity including the development of continuous footpaths, encouraging public access and environmental and habitat improvements.
Niall said: “It’s a truly collaborative effort involving many people who live or work along Durham’s coastal strip.
“And with everyone bringing their own skills to the table we have been able to deliver something very special.
“I look forward to seeing what we can achieve for the Durham Heritage Coast in another decade.”
The overall winner was the Carbonia Project, in Sardinia.