Welcome for legal block on start of ash pile

Concept image  for the UK's first Active Lifestyle Resort near Widdrington.
Concept image for the UK's first Active Lifestyle Resort near Widdrington.

A legal requirement which will halt the movement and storage of huge quantities of waste power station ash at a former opencast mining site until a plan for a £50million leisure and tourism resort is submitted has been welcomed.

Last week, Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment and rights of way committee approved a proposal by Active Leisure Resorts to import 420,000 tonnes of pulverised fuel ash over a six-month period to Steadsburn, near Widdrington.

The material would be used to build an artificial ski slope as part of the company’s multi-million-pound, 700-job holiday and leisure development at the site, Blue Sky Forest.

But it was agreed that no stockpiling will start until a full planning application for the resort has been submitted and validated by the county council.

Coun Scott Dickinson, Druridge Bay ward member, said the legal agreement eased his concerns and added the development would boost the area.

Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council chairman Shelly Willoughby said: “Our worry was that this was going to be some developer coming into the area, making big promises, but just leaving a mess and disappearing, but this has given confidence that the wider scheme will happen.

“It is a leap of faith but I think it is something to be excited about.”

Val Seddon, chairman of Widdrington Village Parish Council, said that the legal agreement gave ‘a little bit of an assurance’ but said it didn’t mean that the wider scheme would actually go ahead.

She added that she wanted Active Leisure to work more with the community.