An opencast coal mine could be built next to one of Northumerbland’s most beautiful beaches after The Court of Appeal overturned Savid Javid’s decision to block the scheme.
Banks Mining applied for permission to mine three million toness of coal, sandstone and fireclay from an 800 acres site in 2015, but after protests and a government inquiry it was shelved in March.
But earlier this month the High Court overturned the decision, which will now be referred back to Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire.
Banks claims its proposal this bring add 100 jobs and £87 million to the local economy, but locals say it will damage health and spoil a local beauty spot which is surrounded by nature reserves and home to some of Britain’s rarest birds.
A spokesman for The Durham Miners’ Association said: “Our members have given their lifetime and, quite often, their health to the winning of coal.
“There is no reason to support any opencast application which disrupts their later years or the lives of their children and grandchildren.”
Mr Javid rejected the plans in March when he was Communities Secretary on the grounds of climate-change, but Banks submitted an appeal to the High Court claiming his arguments were ‘irrational.’
Gavin Styles, Managing Director at Banks, argued after the ruling: “The scheme has been examined in extreme detail by both a local authority with substantial experience of the extractive industries and an independent planning sector, and was found to be a sound scheme that should be allowed to go ahead”.
Banks currently operate three different opencast coal-mining projects across the North East, with the planned Highthorn site at Druridge Bay being its latest venture.
But The Coal Action Network warned that opencast mining was far more locally destructive than deep mining damaing, ecosystems, watercourses and soil.
“This releases dust, including toxic particles, into the atmosphere and over people’s homes, so residents are at risk of the sort of respiratory diseases previously only seen in miners themselves,” a spokesman added.
Simon Bowen, a Friends of the Earth campaigner, said Mr Javid’s original intervention “was the right decision for the right reason.
“Since then, the case for ending our dependence on fossil fuels has only grown stronger, with the world’s leading climate scientists warning that we need to act fast to avoid climate chaos,” he added.
“James Brokenshire must take heed of the science and again reject this destructive proposal. All opencast schemes should now be banned by the government, and space should be made instead for a low carbon future”.
A spokesperson for James Brokenshire and the Department for Communities said the Secretary of State “notes the High Court’s decision and is considering his response”.
Mr Brokenshire has already refused revocation of decades-old planning permission in a controversial move at another County Durham site where Banks have plans.
Campaigners against the mine said hey would “almost certainly” appeal the High Court’s decision.
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