Plans for Northumberland opencast coal mine rejected

Banks Mining said it is an “absolutely perverse decision which flies in the face of the recommendation for approval” given by the Planning Inspector

By Priyanka Shrestha

Plans for an opencast coal mine in Northumberland have been rejected by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

The county council had approved the proposals for the project at Druridge Bay, Highthorn in July 2016 despite protests from environmentalists.

Banks Mining’s proposed development was for a surface mine for the extraction of coal, sandstone and fireclay, “with restoration to agricultural and ecological uses”, the government said.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has today refused planning permission for a surface mine for the extraction of coal at Highthorn, Druridge Bay, Northumberland. He has considered all the evidence heard at the public inquiry, together with the recommendation of the Planning Inspector.

“His decision took account of all material considerations, including the potential environmental impacts of the scheme.”

Banks Mining said the UK is still dependent on coal for a number of purposes and it believes the importance of securing investment in North East England, creating dozens of jobs and opening up opportunities for regional suppliers to win contracts “could not be any clearer”.

Managing Director Gavin Styles added: “In the same week that the Government decided to support passport manufacturing jobs in France instead of those in North East England, it has now demonstrated that it would prefer to source the coal that is essential for a variety of important industries across the UK, such as steel, house building and concrete production, from Russia or the US, rather than support substantial investment and job creation plans in our region.

“This is an absolutely perverse decision which flies in the face of the recommendation for approval given by Mr Woolcock, the Planning Inspector – the expert appointed by the Government itself to assess this scheme – after his careful consideration of all the facts laid out at the Public Inquiry, as well as the unanimous support we had for the scheme from an experienced, cross-party Northumberland County Council planning committee.”