After three weeks of witnesses from Durham County Council, UK Coal and members of the community, the planning inspector closed the public inquiry on Friday 11th November.
The result of the inquiry will be announced on the 27th January 2012.
The local people including those from The Pont Valley Network gave very impressive. passionate objections to the proposal. They were joined by speakers from The Coal Action Network and Coal Action Scotland. The council was only objection on the planning issues of dust and damage to an area of high landscape value. The local people and other third parties objections include:
- Lack of access to land where there currently are rights of way
- Destruction of habitats
- Removal of historical sites of bell pit and drift mines
- Damage to local residents quality of life
- Traffic problems
- The belief that the restoration will never bring back what has been
- Irreversible ecological destruction
- That extensions and subsequent additional applications for more mines
- Death of key species such as newts and bats and a holistic approach to removal of species
- Evidence from the nearby Stoney Heap ‘restored’ site where soil quality is poor and new planting failing
- Contribution to climate change
- Questions over the quality of the coal in the seem
- Health concerns
- A lack of trust that UK Coal will keep to planning restrictions
- Concerns that UK Coal will not restore the site if their financial situation worsens
The hearing was very long and sometimes tedious in its detail. Now there is nothing more that can be done but wait and hope that the inspector makes the right decision and prevents UK Coal destroying this area. Thank you to those who stood up against UK Coal and fight for this valley.