Family reveals fears of living next to possible opencast site

The Blythe family outside their homes that would face the opencast mine.
The Blythe family outside their homes that would face the opencast mine.

A worried Northumberland family who moved to the area for the benefit of their children have hit out at the possibility of opencast coal mining being on their doorstep for their son and daughter’s childhood.

Phil and Sarah Blythe have lived in what they believed was going to be the idyllic setting of Druridge Bay since 2005 having fallen in love with the white sand beach and expansive dunes.

They have a son, Indi, four,and a daughter, Sennen, three, and enjoy nothing more than exploring the ever-changing coastline or playing family games in their gardens in the Northumbrian sea air.

Now however, as part of a plan by Banks Mining to opencast a huge area of land immediately to the south-west of the couple’s home, they will have a view of grassed baffle banks and the sounds and smells of heavy machinery until at least 2026, when Indi and Sennen will be 14 and 15.

“Anyone who has had children will know that parents want the very best for them,” said Sarah, 35. “We are very worried and angry that Banks feel that they can enforce their heavy engineering on us all for the next 10 plus years.”

Phil, who works at a local architects’ practice, said: “This beautiful part of the country has been subjected to more than its fair share of environmental damages over the years.

“We’ve had a foot-and-mouth burial site here, opencast mining in Butterwell, Stobswood and next up is Ferneybeds in Widdrington Station. Enough is enough.”

The pair are giving their support to the Save Druridge Campaign which has collected around 5,000 signatures on a petition against the proposals and the group has more than 1,500 followers on Twitter.

Banks says that the project could offer real and lasting social, economic and environmental benefits to the surrounding area, as well as helping to sustain a significant number of jobs.

The company has also said that the latest version of the Highthorn proposal has seen around 460 hectares of land to the north of the C116, which runs between the villages of Widdrington and Druridge, removed from the outline design proposal.

l Members of the public who are opposed to Banks’s plans are invited to take part in a family walk next month to show their support for Save Druridge.

The event will start at 11am on Sunday, May 3, from Cresswell bus stop to Druridge Farm. A Northumbrian piper will lead the way.