Highthorn mine was ‘difficult decision’

Protestors against Highthorn opencast at Druridge Bay demonstrating at Morpeth County Hall. Picture by Jane Coltman
Protestors against Highthorn opencast at Druridge Bay demonstrating at Morpeth County Hall. Picture by Jane Coltman

Northumberland County Council accepts that the Secretary of State had a ‘difficult decision’ to make on the divisive Highthorn surface mine.

Sajid Javid refused planning permission for the opencast proposal near Druridge Bay last month against the recommendation of the planning inspector who chaired a 14-day public inquiry last year, sparking criticism from applicant Banks.

A map of the proposed site boundary for Highthorn.

A map of the proposed site boundary for Highthorn.

The scheme had been unanimously approved by the council’s strategic planning committee in July 2016.

This week, a county-council spokesman said: “It was always recognised that the application would be finely balanced as it had to consider a range of environmental and employment issues.

“We appreciate it must have been a difficult decision for the Secretary of State as Druridge Bay is an iconic stretch of coastline and a valuable tourism asset for our county.

News of the refusal also split opinion in the community.

Meanwhile, Banks Mining says it has yet to decide on whether to appeal the decision to refuse the Highthorn surface-mine scheme.