PRUDHOE’S largest employer has funded the resurfacing of a road through the town’s Tyne Riverside Country Park – improving access to the site.

Essity funded the £11,000 resurfacing work at the Spetchells, an area of chalk grassland running alongside the Essity tissue mill, which backs on to the river.

It is formed of chalky waste products from the former ICI chemical plant that made fertiliser and explosives during the Second World War and is home to a wide range of flora and fauna.

The factory operated on the site until the mid 1960s, when a tissue mill was built – originally for Kimberly-Clark.

Mill manager George Placogiannakis offered to fund the resurfacing work after employees working on the site’s water intake pipes reported the gravel path was looking the worse for wear.

“The new tarmac road has a barrier at one end and is used only occasionally by council vehicles, or Essity engineers working on our water intake.

“But it is a popular route with cyclists and dog walkers and gives direct access to the Spetchells,” he explained.

“Our employees have a great deal of affection for the site and we have supported local volunteers keen to preserve this community asset – with a dozen of our apprentices working alongside the Spetchells Conservation Interest Group last year to clear some of the dense undergrowth.”

The stretch of road links the riverside park access at the front of the Northumberland County Council depot, behind the transport interchange, to the footpath along the river.

It is expected to be even more popular with cyclists and walkers after the newly refurbished cafe and Land of Oak & Iron Heritage Centre opens in the next few weeks.

Local county councillors Ken Stow and Gordon Stewart attended the launch of the new track. Coun. Stewart added: “This has provided a great improvement to a well-loved local park.

“We are grateful to Essity for making this contribution, and hope that park users like cyclists and walkers will feel and enjoy the benefits.”