Tyne & Wear

Druridge Bay opencast beach mine plan backed by council

Druridge Bay Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The site adjoins Druridge Bay

Controversial plans for a surface mine close to a nature reserve have been backed by Northumberland County Council.

Developer Banks Group wants to extract three million tonnes of coal, sandstone and fireclay from a site at Highthorn, near the village of Widdrington.

The company said the Highthorn Surface Mine would create jobs and investment.

Critics said it would "damage tourism and scar the landscape". The Secretary of State will make the final decision.

Local campaigner John Rodgers said: "We've lived with opencast mining for 50 or 60 years and we've seen how it snuffs out all other economic activity."

Restore the site

Banks Group said there would be 50 jobs transferred to the new site from other sites in Northumberland, which adjoins Druridge Bay, and 50 new jobs.

It would also restore the area after it had finished and £48m would go into local suppliers.

Jeannie Kietley, from Banks Group, said; "What's really important for Northumberland is job creation and making sure we continue to support the economy."

The company is proposing extraction would last five years and then two years would be spent restoring the site.

Council leader Grant Davey said: "I fully accept this has been a long and difficult process, with strong feelings on both sides, but I do believe this decision is in the best interests of Northumberland and its residents.

"It's also important to stress that the CBI (Commercial Bank International) and the North East Chamber of Commerce have written in support of the application."

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