Residents’ anger at plans for new opencast mine

Residents protest at plans for an opencast mine near Bebside, Blyth.
Residents protest at plans for an opencast mine near Bebside, Blyth.

A battle has begun to stop woodland and farmland from being turned into an opencast mine site.

Residents living in part of Blyth have launched a campaign group protesting against plans by UK Coal to create an opencast mine site at Bebside.

More than 100 people have so far backed the petition created by ‘Save Bebside’ with organisers hoping more will come on board following its official launch this week.

UK Coal has submitted a scoping request to Northumberland County Council with views to extracting 850,000 tonnes of coal over a five-year period, starting in 2015.

But residents say the development would lead to the loss of an important and vital open space and woodland, with nothing similar in the area.

Sally Pattison, from the campaign group, said: “Residents have lots of concerns, the main one being the environmental impact.

“The area is archaeological rich, there are hedges which are 300-years-old. There is also birds, red squirrels, owls, bats and other wildlife in the area.

“It’s a lovely scenic area. There is nothing else like this in the area.

“If you’re working class in this county you don’t get a green place.

“There is beautiful woodland, wildlife and this area is also in the county council’s environmental strategy.

“It’s important we keep this area as once they are gone that’s it.

“UK Coal only own part of the site but have said once they are finished they will build houses on part of the land they own.”

She added: “The archaeological importance of the site is at stake with the potential existence of a neolithic hedge on the borders of the proposed mine and pieces of a Roman figurine were found in the area only last year.”

The proposed site includes Hathery Lane, which was re-surfaced last year using a local sustainable travel fund grant of £295,000.

If the proposals were to go ahead it would see the newly laid cycle path torn up and replaced temporarily with a diverted route running alongside the A189 Spine Road.

Ms Pattison added: “The area is used all the time. It’s used by walkers, cyclists, joggers, people out walking their dogs, horse riders and more.

“We want to make people in Blyth aware of these plans as not everyone was notified by UK Coal.”

She added there was also concerns about the impact of traffic from the site on the local area, dust pollution and the build up of gas on the site where previous underground mine workings have taken place.

An initial petition has been set up on the county council’s website but campaigners are hoping to launch their own website in the near future which will have a link to the petition.