Concern over plans for opencast mine

Concerns have been raised around proposals to create an opencast mine between two of the largest towns in south east Northumberland.

The plans by UK Coal would see 850,000 tonnes of coal exported along the A189 Spine Road.

The proposals for a scoping opinion, submitted to Northumberland County Council, cover a large area west of Cowpen in Blyth, south of Bebside, and north of East Hartford and Shankhouse in Cramlington.

Cramlington West ward councillor, Barry Flux, said: “I have real concerns about this proposal.

“In particular the traffic implications this might have on both the Spine Road and the A192 which runs past East Hartford, which is a dangerous road with vehicles travelling at top speed past the main pedestrian access between East Hartford and Northburn.

“This appears to be on the green gap between East Hartford, Cramlington, Blyth and Bedlington.

“This proposal would be taking away yet more of our precious green space.”

Coun Grant Davey, ward councillor for Kitty Brewster and leader of the council, added: “We certainly need more information from UK Coal, because as it stands, it would be difficult to support any opencast development.

“Residents have already approached me about this proposal and it’s clear that people are rightly worried about the potential impact on the area.

“While the application would involve some area that is contaminated, the largest section is countryside and valuable land, and this development will upset that balance.”

The proposed development site lies 2km west of Blyth, and 2km south east of Bedlington.

If the plans went ahead, initial soil stripping would be estimated to start in 2015, with phased coal extraction and restoration carried out over five years, and coal extraction and export over three years.

A request for Environmental Impact Assesment scoping opinion on what information should be included within an environmental statement will now go to Northumberland County Council for consideration.

Two public exhibition events were held at The Dales School in Blyth on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.