Mine objectors raise thousands at auction

Sandra Kerr and John Heyes with the auto harp.
Sandra Kerr and John Heyes with the auto harp.

Campaigners battling a controversial surface-mine plan have raised £5,000 at an auction to help their fight against the scheme.

The Save Druridge Group held the event at Cresswell Village Hall on Saturday, with lots including a classic sports car and an instrument used to play the theme tune of a much-loved children’s show.

Objectors are protesting against Banks Mining’s proposed Highthorn development, near Widdrington.

The scheme was approved by the county council last summer, but in September, Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, opted to call in the plan.

Its fate will now be determined after an 11-day inquiry which will start on Wednesday, May 31, at the home of Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.

Last weekend’s auction helped to boost the coffers of the anti-mine campaign.

An auto harp, used to play the Bagpuss theme tune, went for just over £500. It was donated by folk singer, Sandra Kerr, who with John Faulkner, wrote the music for Bagpuss.

Meanwhile, an MG classic sports car, donated by Save Druridge member Max Tait, fetched just under £2,000.

Lynne Tait, who leads the Save Druridge Group, was delighted with the public’s response. She added that ‘the auction will go a long way to helping us with our campaign costs’. She thanked everyone who supported the event, including ‘our professional auctioneer John Heyes’.

Objectors fear that the mine will destroy a stunning part of Northumberland, impact on climate change, damage tourism and have a negative impact on wildlife and ecology. They also say the scheme will cause road issues and have negative effects on residential amenity, including noise, dust and air pollution.

But Banks and its supporters point to jobs, economic benefits for the wider area and restoration plans for the site.

The proposal is to extract coal, fireclay and sandstone over a five-year period, with total operations lasting seven years.