The Pont Valley Network and Durham County Council have successfully prevented UK Coal mining half a million tonnes of Coal from Bradley when UK Coal appealed the decision made last year.
The inspectors report was published on Thursday 23rd February which rejects the appeal, by UK Coal. Durham County Council unanimously rejected the application a year ago. The appeal took three weeks and ended in November last year. There were excellent contributions from the council’s speakers and a large number of people from the local community.
The inspector wrote,
155 … [T]here is a strong and unequivocal conclusion that the winning
of coal by surface working at Bradley would have a material and detrimental
effect on the settled environment of the Pont Valley and the wider Derwent
‘159. The community benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the harm and, in the
case where this accords with the local view, this must carry extra weight…In a nutshell, approaching a 15-year period to achieve what UK Coal contend would be equivalent status, would
deliver a mere 3-days national coal supply. This does not seem to be a fair
balance of harm to need, where no national policy need is identified.’
It was felt that if this application were to have been successful then there would have been a continuous cycle of extensions and further mines sought in the area. The area contains important ecosystems and is well used by local people, including those studying historic mining methods. Local young people added to the debate, pointing out that this coal would provide the UK grid with 3 days worth of coal which could be obtained from sustainable sources or proved unnecessary by energy efficiency. A local farmer showed how areas which were open cast were seriously depleted, as the soil ecosystems were destroyed, when compared to areas which have not been mined. The Coal Action Network also contributed to the voices against the mine with experiences of how coal companies really act once mining has been approved. The Pont Valley Network and local people were successful in proving that the valley has far more to offer, to locals and tourists alike, as it is rather than the ‘restoration’ offered by UK Coal.
Well done to those who fought this case.
The article about the original rejection of the mine by Durham County Council can be seen at http://northern-indymedia.org/articles/1389