Plans to extend a surface mine near a Northumberland beauty spot have been given the go-ahead by council bosses.
Durham-based Banks Mining has seen its planning application for the first of two additional areas at Shotton surface mine, on the Blagdon Estate near Northumberlandia in Cramlington, approved despite receiving more than 2,500 objections when the mine was approved by the Government in 2007.
The company’s latest plans to mine around 250,000 additional tonnes of coal at the site have been largely welcomed by the local community, but residents have warned that Banks’ promise of “environmental improvement” must be adhered to.
Coun Wayne Daley, who represents Cramlington North for the county council and town council, said: “Mining at the site is set to be completed by 2017 and full restoration carried out by 2019.
“I haven’t heard anything in the way of objections, because Banks has conducted itself very professionally and has led community projects and contributed to the local economy which has been widely appreciated.
“However, we need to be assured that following this planned extension, the work is still scheduled to stop at the set date. It’s a picturesque part of Northumberland and the environmental impact of a surface mine can not be overlooked.”
The additional mining will provide a further year’s work for the 150 employees at the Shotton site, with coaling set to be completed by October 2017 and full restoration carried out by October 2019.
A county council decision on the second new area at Shotton, which is known as Shotton Triangle and sits on the site’s western side, is expected to follow soon.
Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, said: “The discussions we had with local people and community representatives about this additional work were very positive, and we’re very pleased to be given permission by the county council to begin operations at Shotton South West.
“We aim to work our Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines in a safe, responsible and efficient way, and our continued presence in the local area has enabled us to build strong relationships and deliver tangible benefits to the surrounding communities.”
Over 200 people are directly employed by Banks across its Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites, which already contribute more than £400,000 in business rates every year.
The two schemes have also enabled Banks to provide support for local facilities through its Banks Community Fund, with over £785,000 given to groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last decade.