Parish council gives backing to plans for surface mine

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PLANS for a proposed new surface mine in south east Northumberland have won the backing of the local parish council.

Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council has written to Northumberland County Council to express its support for Banks Mining’s proposed Ferneybeds scheme, which would be located to the south of Widdrington Station, around three miles north west of Ashington.

Banks is looking to extract around 752,000 tonnes of coal over a three-year period from the site, which would directly support around 40 local jobs, as well as bringing substantial new revenues into the local economy.

A council letter “commends Banks in taking notice of comments made at community workshop meetings” held as part of the public consultation, and for “taking on board residents’ concerns in regard to access and egress of the site”.

Coun Joseph Sennett, chairman of the parish council, said: “Our community is used to surface mining and has sometimes been let down by other companies that haven’t lived up to the promises they made, but right from the start of the consultation process, Banks were up-front, explaining what was planned, listening to what we had to say and making changes to the plans in response to the concerns we expressed.”

Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, added: “We work hard to inform, involve and listen to the communities in which we’re looking to locate new operations, and to provide them with every opportunity to influence our design work with opinions and ideas.

“The very welcome support that the council has given to our proposals reflects the quality and suitability of the design that we have put forward for the Ferneybeds site, and we hope we are given an opportunity to provide a further boost to employment and investment in the area through its approval.”