Waste-ash plans deferred

An Active Lifestyle Resort is being built on an 800-acre reclaimed former surface mine site near Widdrington' Sketch of the proposed snowpark.
An Active Lifestyle Resort is being built on an 800-acre reclaimed former surface mine site near Widdrington' Sketch of the proposed snowpark.

A scheme to bring 420,000 tonnes of power-station waste to the Northumberland countryside is yet to be decided after confusion reigned in the council chamber.

The fuel-ash plans to create a landform for a dry ski slope as part of the Active Leisure Resorts development at the former Steadburn opencast site near Widdrington were recommended for approval at Tuesday night’s meeting of the county council’s planning and environment committee.

But members were concerned that the ash plan was submitted in isolation, with the main scheme not due to come before planners until November, and a proposal to accept officers’ recommendation to approve the scheme was voted down by 13 votes to one.

Some councillors thought the application had therefore been rejected, but they were told that was not the case and a site visit was agreed instead.

The scheme had received objections from Ulgham, Tritlington and West Chevington, Widdrington Village, and Widdrington Station and Stobswood parish councils over dust, noise, water pollution and the proximity to dwellings. Three letters of support were also submitted.

But the planning officer’s report to members stated: “The temporary importation of this material is considered to be acceptable in relation to the principle of development, and its impact on visual and residential amenity, highways, heritage assets and ecology.”

The transportation of pulverised fuel ash would result in around two to three trains per weekday and two trains on a Saturday.

Movement from the rail sidings to the site would result in a maximum of 160 wagons per day (80 in/80 out) over six months.

This application has been submitted in advance of the main application due to the timescales involved in creating the landform, which will take about 30 months.

When the plans were submitted, Widdrington Village parish chairman Val Seddon said: “In Widdrington Village at the moment, it just seems to be getting worse.”