Banks Mining’s Highthorn project, for land between Druridge Bay and Widdrington Station, will now be decided by Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. It comes after Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee voted to go along with officer’s recommendations to approve the scheme in July.
The application has proved highly divisive, with supporters on both sides of the fence. Banks and those in favour point to jobs and economic benefits for the wider area as well as the restoration plans for the site following the extraction of coal, sandstone and fireclay. However, objectors said that the mine would destroy a stunning part of Northumberland. Concerns also include the impact on climate change, potential damage to tourism, the impact on wildlife and ecology, road issues and the negative effects on residential amenity, including noise, dust and air pollution.
Now, Mrs Trevelyan has said she is pleased that the scheme has been called in, meaning that there will now be a public inquiry chaired by a planning inspector, who will make a recommendation to Mr Javid to decide on the fate of the project.
She said: “I am delighted the Secretary of State has agreed to my request and that of the excellent Save Druridge group to call in the application by Banks Mining for an opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay. Residents were dismayed by the county council’s decision to ignore their concerns and give the go-ahead to the plans, despite the huge weight of local opposition.
“The Secretary of State has ruled the decision should be taken out of the hands of politically-motivated councillors and judged by an impartial planning inspector who will assess the application on its planning merits and will take into account the Government’s national plans to move away from coal production.
“Residents will have the opportunity to put their concerns about the environmental impact of the plans to the inspector, who will visit the area to see for himself where the site is located.”