Widdrington opencast mine plan changed amid local concerns

Changes have been made to a proposed opencast mine near Widdrington Station in Northumberland following consultation with the local community

Changes have been made to the site of a proposed surface mine in Northumberland in response to local concerns.

Banks Mining announced plans earlier this year for a surface mining project called Highthorn on land East of Widdrington Station, inland from Druridge Bay.

The company has since been carrying out consultation with the local community over its plans.

Now, Banks has announced that as a result of that consultation, the company has moved to exclude a number of fields to the North East of Widdrington village from the scheme.

The developer has also stated that it hopes to further reduce the areas of land around residential locations that may be required for the mine.

Widdrington Parish Council last night welcomed the move, and Banks’ commitment to working with the community.

Confirming the changes, Katie Perkin, communications manager at Banks, said: “Involving local residents, businesses, community groups, tourism bodies and visitors from the beginning of the Highthorn development process means we can fully understand their views and enable them to have a direct influence on both the site’s design and the benefits it will bring to the area.

A map of showing where the planned opencast will be
A map of showing where the planned opencast will be
 

“The importance of avoiding using this land became clear from the conversations we’ve had with a number of Widdrington residents as well as the landowner, and we’ve therefore taken it out of the scheme design process that is currently under way.

“We’re very pleased with the degree of community engagement that we’ve been able to achieve over the last three months around this project, and will continue to maximise the opportunities for all interested parties to play a positive role part in this ongoing dialogue.”

Val Seddon, chairman of the Widdrington council, last night responded, saying: “Obviously that is a good thing.

“We did, when we spoke to them, mention a few things that we felt could cause complications and one was the distance away from houses.

“We are quite happy, particularly with the way they are prepared to work with the parish council.”

The first phase of test drilling is currently taking place on the site, and a series of community panels which will enable local people to provide further feedback are planned by Banks next year.

A planning application is not expected to be ready for submission until summer 2014 at the earliest.

The company runs nearby Shotton - home to Northumberlandia - and Brenkley Lane surface mines.

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