Objectors brave wind and rain to stage protest march

Objectors on the protest walk.
Objectors on the protest walk.

Determined objectors braved the elements to take part in a protest walk against hotly-contested plans for a surface mine close to a coastal beauty spot.

A strong contingent of people turned out for Sunday’s march to show their opposition to Banks Mining’s controversial Highthorn proposal, earmarked for the south-east of Widdrington and near Druridge Bay.

The demonstration, led by a Northumbrian piper, was organised by resident Lynne Tate, who is part of the Save Druridge campaign group.

The route took objectors adjacent to the site of the planned open-cast, which opponent say will be fully in view of the sand dunes and the popular tourist road leading from Cresswell to Druridge.

Lynne was delighted with the number of people who braved the heavy wind and rain to turn out and support the fight.

She said: “Everyone at the walk had one goal in mind and that was to protect the land around Druridge Bay.

“There has been open-cast mining in Northumberland for as long as anyone can remember and enough is enough. The Druridge area is a step too far.

“This proposal not only affects locals, but people in the outlying areas too.

“We had people come from as far afield as Newcastle, Alnwick and Durham to join the walk. I’d like to thank everyone who came along.”

Objectors are concerned about a number of issues, including noise, dust, light pollution and environmental damage, as well as impact on wildlife. Around 5,000 people have signed a petition.

Banks is proposing to extract up to five million tonnes of coal over an eight-to-10-year period – including restoration – starting in 2016, followed by a five-year aftercare period.

A planning application is set to be submitted later in the year and Banks says the project, which does have supporters, could offer social, economic and environmental benefits to the surrounding area and help to sustain a significant number of jobs.

Mark Dowdall, from Banks, said: “Operations at Highthorn would take place several hundred yards away from Druridge Bay and the protection and enhancement of the bay and the surrounding communities is at the heart of our proposals.”