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NEWS RELEASE No: 1533422 MARCH 2012

Forest visitor centre built on open cast site gets top eco rating

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Setting off on the Hicks Lodge Trail

An eco-building built on an eyesore open cast mine in The National Forest in Leicestershire has been given a top seal of approval for its green credentials  – and set a benchmark for others to follow.

Hicks Lodge Visitor Centre, near Ashby de la Zouch – built by the Forestry Commission and the National Forest  Company – was opened last June and is now celebrating being given an excellent rating by an industry standard environmental scheme called BREEAM.

The facility, which cost over £550,000, is the gateway to the new National  Forest  Cycling Centre, which offers 16kms of family and multi-user trails.

Forester Alan Dowell said:

“This is the first Forestry Commission building to achieve this world class standard and all the partners involved in making the project happen are incredibly proud.  Since we opened the public response to the visitor centre and the trails network has been beyond our wildest dreams. ”

Built from timber the building has a café, bike hire, repair shop, cycle wash, toilets, shower and changing facilities. Featuring solar panels, woodfuel heating – with timber supplied from local woods – rainwater harvesting and movement sensitive lighting, it was designed to showcase green technologies.

Just a few years ago it was all very different.

Open cast mining was carried out on the site between 1980 and 2005, but since then it has been transformed from an eyesore into a vibrant beauty spot at a total cost of £1.5m.  Forest chiefs also say visitor figures are set to be beat original estimates, with over 6,000 people using the Hicks Lodge cycle trails in February alone.


Notes to Editor

  1. BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) is a voluntary measurement rating system for green buildings designed to measure the sustainability of new non-domestic buildings.  It was established in 1990 by the Building Research Establishment in the UK, but has since been exported across the globe.

  2. The National Forest spans 200 square miles across parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire and is one of England’s most ambitious environmental            projects – to create a new Forest for the nation. The gentle undulating landscape is perfect for walking, cycling and horse-riding. Through the creation of new        habitats The National Forest is also an ideal location for bird and wildlife watching.

  3. Contractors for Hicks Lodge included Nottinghamshire-based construction company Robert Woodhead Ltd and architects Pick Everard.

  4. Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. To find out more got to

  5. Media calls to 0775 367 0038