OPENCAST: Hope decision is overturned

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Some issues bring people from across the political spectrum together.

Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas’ Early Day Motion in Parliament successfully asked for the Druridge Bay mine planning decision to be called in.

The motion was supported by MPs from several parties. Local parties, including the Liberal Democrats and our Conservative MP, have pulled together on this issue. Even the Parliamentary Labour Party leadership is against the mine.

At a Banks’ public relations meeting, I stressed the need to consider climate change in the council’s decision-making process of the opencast mine.

I was told by a planning officer that it wasn’t something that needed consideration at local level, it was an issue for central government only.

They were wrong.

Like many others, I wrote a report to the council planning office in objection. I stated: ‘The Climate Change Act of 2008 states that the UK has to set a carbon budget and local authorities have a duty to help meet that budget.’

I wrote to all the councillors on the planning committee about this too, reminding them that the Act requires ‘a 34 per cent reduction in CO2 from 1990 by 2020’. Local government is required to help achieve this target. They apparently ignored that.

I also emphasised local issues, such as worries about increased brain and bowel cancer risks to anyone living within a few miles of an opencast coal mine. I raised the danger of pollutants leaching into the ground decades after mines close.

I also highlighted the red-listed bird and plant species that breed on the site, bringing into doubt the accuracy of Banks’ ecological survey. They didn’t heed these either.

Let’s hope that Mr Javid makes the right decision for our local environment and overturns the council’s dire decision to allow the mine to go ahead. This will be a real victory for the small band of local heroes that have run the Save Druridge Bay campaign, who stood up to a corporate empire.

Ivor Rackham,

The Green Party