Today is a sad day. Highthorn opencast coal mine was approved this afternoon (5th July) by Northumberland County Council despite huge opposition.
If it starts ,the mine could extract 3 million tonnes of coal before 2023. There is thought to be greater quantities of coal in the area than the application has sought permission to extract. It is therefore possible, that in favourable market conditions, Banks will seek extensions to the application.
Banks already operates two opencast mines in Northumberland – Shotton and Brenkley Lane. Banks also have permission to extract coal at a third site, Ferneybeds, but this has not yet been started. It is thought that coaling has not commenced at Ferneybeds because the permissions to move electricity lines on the site have not be approved. Banks have their eyes on another North East site, they are conducting scoping inquiries for an application at Dewley Hill on the Northumberland/ Newcastle border.
The information provided to the councillors by Banks, the mining company wasn’t all accurate. This included claims that children work in mines in Colombia. The human rights situation in Colombia is dreadful, but child labour isn’t part of the picture.
Banks have been known to lie about the amounts of jobs their sites – Rusha for one – will create. Now is time to be moving away from coal, not approving more sites.
The local community and members of opposition group Save Druridge fought a brilliant campaign, one which isn’t over. For details about the application see http://www.savedruridge.co.uk/ or http://coalaction.org.uk/2016/06/act-to-save-druridge/