THE £10m clean-up of the coal-blackened Durham coast has won national praise.

Turning The Tide, which is creating beauty spots out of eyesores in east Durham, was commended in the community initiative category of the Local Government Chronicle Awards.

Project leader Ray Leonard said: "It was a major achievement to be short-listed. Even though we didn't win, the commendation was recognition of Turning The Tide's work with the local community, helping to provide long-term benefits for East Durham.''

The project was one of three, out of 100 entries, to make the final at London's Hilton Hotel.

Work began in July 1997 to clear coal tipped on the area's beaches over the past 100 years.

The project has also carried out environmental improvements, and created a coastal path and other features to draw visitors.