Opencast mine plan unveiled

Land between Widdrington and Ellington.
Land between Widdrington and Ellington.

Plans for a new surface mine near a Northumberland beauty spot, which would sustain more than 150 jobs and create £200million investment, have been unveiled.

But developers have been warned that there is a balance to strike between supporting the local economy and damaging the environment.

Shotton opencast seen from Northumberlandia.

Shotton opencast seen from Northumberlandia.

Banks Mining has begun initial consultation over its Highthorn project, which would be located between Druridge Bay and Widdrington Station.

The company is proposing to dig around seven million tonnes of coal, starting in 2016, with a view to complete extraction by 2027, and restoration and aftercare ongoing until 2035. Banks says that the 700-hectare operation would protect the jobs of more than 150 people working at its Shotton Surface Mine, Cramlington, and Brenkley Lane Surface Mine, near to Seaton Burn, which will approach completion towards the end of the decade.

Roughly 75 per cent of the staff at Shotton and Brenkley Lane live within a 25-mile radius of the sites.

Banks has also suggested a host of community benefits, such as apprenticeships and support towards training and qualifications.

Initial restoration ideas include creating paths, green spaces and wildlife habitats.

There could also be investment in cycle routes, tourist attractions, broadband, public transport and facilities for young people.

Local ward member, Coun Scott Dickinson said: “The scheme is aimed at retaining 150 jobs, not to mention the benefits to the local economy.

“But we must ensure that places like Druridge Bay Country Park are protected and make sure that there is no disturbance to the beautiful surroundings and to make sure that any concerns will be acted on in the right way.”

Plans for a new surface mine near a Northumberland beauty spot, which would sustain more than 150 jobs and create £200million investment, have been unveiled.

But developers have been warned that there is a balance to strike between supporting the local economy and damaging the environment.

Banks Mining has begun initial consultation over its Highthorn project, which would be located between Druridge Bay and Widdrington Station.

The company is proposing to dig around seven million tonnes of coal, starting in 2016, with a view to complete extraction by 2027, and restoration and aftercare ongoing until 2035. Banks says that the 700-hectare operation would protect the jobs of more than 150 people working at its Shotton Surface Mine, Cramlington, and Brenkley Lane Surface Mine, near to Seaton Burn, which will approach completion towards the end of the decade.

Roughly 75 per cent of the staff at Shotton and Brenkley Lane live within a 25-mile radius of the sites.

Banks has also suggested a host of community benefits, such as apprenticeships and support towards training and qualifications.

Initial restoration ideas include creating paths, green spaces and wildlife habitats.

There could also be investment in cycle routes, tourist attractions, broadband, public transport and facilities for young people.

Local ward member, Coun Scott Dickinson said: “The scheme is aimed at retaining 150 jobs, not to mention the benefits to the local economy.

“But we must ensure that places like Druridge Bay Country Park are protected and make sure that there is no disturbance to the beautiful surroundings and to make sure that any concerns will be acted on in the right way.”