Tyne & Wear

Northumberland surface mine planned near nature reserve

Image caption The Highthorn site is near to the popular beach and nature reserve at Druridge Bay

Plans for a surface mine near the Druridge Bay nature reserve in Northumberland are being put out to public consultation.

Banks Mining said the Highthorn project would sustain 150 jobs and offer "lasting regeneration opportunities".

It said the area had "one of the best and largest remaining coal resources".

Communications manager Katie Perkin said: "We understand that the Highthorn proposal is a unique and sensitive location."

She added: "We are therefore announcing our intentions at the earliest possible opportunity to start a dialogue with local residents, businesses, tourism bodies and visitors."

The company employs more than 200 people at Brenkley Lane, Newcastle and Shotton near Cramlington, where it created the Northumberlandia sculpture.

It said it would work with Northumberland Wildlife Trust and Northumberland Tourism to enhance the local environment and provide facilities for visitors and residents.

Northumberland Tourism said it was pleased it had been approached very early on in the process and been included in discussions.

Northumberland Wildlife Trust chief executive Mike Pratt said the trust supported "the concept of the proposal" which could create "new valuable wetland and other wildlife habitat".

"If restored properly, surface mining can provide value for wildlife and people's access to it, but Northumberland Wildlife Trust would need to be satisfied in detail that existing wildlife and habitats were being sufficiently protected," he said.

A planning application is expected to be ready for submission in 2014 at the earliest.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites