Friends of the Earth slams controversial opencast decision

Broadcaster and naturalist Bill Oddie was the special guest at a picnic held in protest to the plans earlier this year.
Broadcaster and naturalist Bill Oddie was the special guest at a picnic held in protest to the plans earlier this year.

Campaigners are calling for the controversial application for an opencast mine near Druridge Bay to go to a public inquiry.

Friends of the Earth said today’s decision by Northumberland County Council to give planning permission the Banks Mining surface mine at Highthorn, between Druridge Bay and Widdrington Station, was 'terrible' and should be called in by the Secretary of State, which could lead to a public inquiry and decision by a planning inspector.

Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: "This is a terrible decision for the local community and their environment.

"Druridge Bay is an incredibly special place. An opencast coalmine would damage its beauty, cause massive disruption and drive away tourists – all for the sake of a dying source of energy that's wrecking our climate.

"Friends of the Earth will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the many thousands of local people who oppose this ill-conceived scheme. The council failed to allow objectors to the mine to speak for more than five minutes in total - despite over 10,000 objections being received. The Secretary of State should call it in to allow the evidence to be properly heard."

More than 10,000 people objected to the planning application. The campaign against the mine is being led by Save Druridge Bay. It is also opposed by numerous local and national organisations, as well as naturalist and broadcaster Bill Oddie, who attended a picnic at the proposed site last month.
Before the event, he said: "When I heard that there was a threat of opencast mining in Druridge Bay, I honestly thought it had to be a rather sick April Fool’s Day prank."