OPENCAST: Better look to renewables

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The Secretary of State’s decision to ‘call in’ Banks Mining’s application for a devastating opencast mine at Druridge Bay is to be greatly welcomed by everyone who wants a better future for Northumberland, and for the world’s climate.

This calling-in only happens with issues of national significance, and we are delighted that the Government, pressed by the Green Party and also by our own Tory MP, have recognised this significance.

Following Banks’ claim that this scheme represented an investment of £120million into the region, I challenge it to explain its figures through your newspaper.

With coal currently trading at £33 per tonne, its proposal at Druridge Bay has a gross value of £99million, so if it intends to invest £120million in carrying out the work, it is likely to go out of business.

Banks’ claim that it ‘wants to get on with this’ also rings hollow when it has continually failed to ‘get on’ with the opencast permission that was granted three years ago at Ferneybeds.

It seems clear that, if approved, it would intend to carry out both mines at the same time, bringing compounded misery to local communities, compounded risks to health, and compounded danger on the roads.

The county council’s approval of the scheme in July was unimaginative and backward-looking. Every single county councillor, whether on the committee or not, should be ashamed of that decision, and mightily relieved that there is now a chance of it being overturned.

It is high time that Banks accepted that its era of coal exploitation is dead, and to realise that there are far better long-term economic prospects in developing renewable technology.

Northumberland has a skilled engineering workforce, and easy access to some of the most reliable energy sources on the planet – tides, waves and wind.

Any effort to harness those to power our homes and our industries would be met with wholehearted approval by all sections of the community.

Tom Stewart,

Berwick-upon-Tweed

Constituency Green Party