HGV numbers cause concern

A controversial surface-mine plan has led to concerns about ‘intolerable’ levels of HGV traffic travelling to and from the site.

Banks Mining is behind the Highthorn project, earmarked for the south-east of Widdrington and near the picturesque Druridge Bay.

The company has stated that there could be up to 300 lorry movements to and from the site each day, with the A1068 being a key access route.

It prompted concerns from residents during a recent community engagement event held earlier this month.

After the meeting, objector Tom Stewart, from campaign group Save Druridge, said: “The scale and volume of traffic proposed worries me and is quite scary.

“The number of accidents on the A1068 is quite high already . Not only that, but it is a tourist route along the coast.”

After attending the workshop, Lib Dem candidate for Berwick, Julie Pörksen, said: “The additional daily HGV movements will increase the risk to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. It would be intolerable for residents.”

Mark Dowdall, from Banks, tried to allay fears. He said: “The proposed transport routes and procedures for the scheme are still being worked out, taking into account local feedback to ensure we avoid minor roads and utilise major A-roads that are specifically designed to handle freight traffic.

“Any improvements to the A1068 that are required to ensure we have the safest possible transport infrastructure in place will be developed and implemented in conjunction with the Highways Agency and county council.

“The 300 lorry movements per day we discussed at the recent workshop is an absolute maximum figure, with the likelihood being that the average daily number will be significantly lower.

“We are currently in discussions with recreational access experts to explore how the plan could support improvements being made to local cycling routes.”

The mine is earmarked for the Druridge ward of Coun Scott Dickinson, who is Labour’s candidate for Berwick.

After attending the workshop, he said that he was waiting for the application to be submitted before he could comment fully as there was not yet a determined number for daily HGV movements.

Objectors are concerned about a number of issues, including noise, dust, light pollution, effect on wildlife and environmental damage.

Banks says that the project could offer lasting social, economic and environmental benefits to the surrounding area and sustain jobs.