Tourism attraction talks for mine site

Land between Widdrington and Ellington.
Land between Widdrington and Ellington.

Tourism officials are considering ways to create a new attraction should plans for an open cast mine near Druridge Bay eventually be approved.

Northumberland Tourism is working with Banks Mining to identify how the company’s proposed new Highthorn surface mine to the east of Widdrington Station could provide new enhanced facilities for tourists.

Banks Mining has just begun a lengthy public consultation on the plans, including talks with Northumberland Tourism and Northumberland Wildlife Trust to look at the impact of the mine and the site’s final restoration.

The move comes following the success of the £3m creation of Northumberlandia near Cramlington, involving Banks and the Blagdon Estate.

Jude Leitch, tourism development manager for Northumberland Tourism, said: “We have some wonderful things for people to come and see which have been here for hundreds of years, so it’s really exciting when something new happens that’s going to enhance the landscape and the reputation of Northumberland.

“Banks have been really good at coming and talking to us. They have talked about how they can make sure that the work that they are doing doesn’t have a detrimental effect on the county and the county’s tourism offer.”

Katie Perkin, communication manager at The Banks Group, said: “Northumberlandia provides clear evidence of how Banks’ innovation can contribute to the creation of an outstanding visitor attraction.

“We strongly believe that Highthorn could offer real and lasting regeneration opportunities for the surrounding area, as well as addressing some of the existing environmental issues caused by the poor restoration of the landscape after it was previously mined in the 1950s.”

A planning application for Highthorn is not expected to be ready until summer 2014 at the earliest. For more on the project visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/highthorn