Support group is launched for major surface-mine plans

Banks Mining's Highthorn study area for an opencast site.
Banks Mining's Highthorn study area for an opencast site.

Nearly 700 people have shown their support for a controversial surface-mine plan close to a coastal beauty spot.

Banks Mining is behind the Highthorn project, which is earmarked for the east of Widdrington, inland from the picturesque Druridge Bay.

Last week, we reported how an e-petition against the scheme, set up by the Save Druridge group, was closing in on the 3,000-signatures mark.

Objectors state that the company’s plans would cause massive environmental destruction next to one of the county’s most beautiful and loved beaches.

But the proposed scheme is splitting opinion in the area, as a recently-created Facebook page, entitled Support Highthorn Opencast, has attracted more than 680 likes in less than a week.

The page creators state that the development would lead to local jobs, apprenticeships and community funding and .

Those in favour have also written to the Northumberland County Council to ask if an e-petition in support of the plans can be reopened.

Banks, who recently submitted a scoping report to the authority, want to extract up to five-million tonnes of coal.

The company hopes to carry out operations from 2016, with the site operational for between eight to 10 years, followed by a five-year restoration and aftercare period.

Banks is holding two community consultation workshops at Widdrington Community Centre from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. The first is on Monday, followed by one on Monday, February 9.