Charities set out objection to mine plans

The reduced area of the proposed Highthorn surface mine scheme.
The reduced area of the proposed Highthorn surface mine scheme.

Concerns have been raised by a trio of charities in relation to a controversial proposal for an opencast mine in Northumberland.

Banks Mining lodged a planning application in October for the Highthorn site – land to the north of the C116 which runs between the villages of Widdrington and Druridge. Thousands of people have signed petitions against the proposal, although hundreds are in favour.

As well as support and objection letters from residents – the deadline is December 8 – a range of organisations have been consulted and a joint statement has been issued by Northumberland Wildlife Trust (NWT), The National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Although they accept that Banks has attempted to incorporate comments and concerns made by the organisations pre-submission into its application, they are minded to object to the proposal as it currently stands.

The statement says: ‘It is not clear how the applicant’s proposed mitigation will be delivered realistically and the proposal lacks assurances over delivery that we consider imperative are adequately and satisfactorily addressed prior to consideration by the local planning authority, in discussion with conservation groups, site users and local communities’.

NWT has also submitted its own response to the planning application to Northumberland County Council.

It includes the following: ‘The hydrological regime of wetlands, including Cresswell Pond SSSI (which is owned and managed by NWT) may be impacted.

‘Our expert advice, which is somewhat supported by the hydro-geological statement, is that the lowering of the water table is likely and this is therefore likely to have an effect’.