GIANT emerging landform Northumberlandia has been given the once-over by a Government Minister.
Planning Minister Bob Neill toured the feature near Blagdon as part of a visit to the county to see how a modern surface mine operates and the impact it has on the surrounding area.
The trip, which was organised by trade body Coalpro, was hosted by Banks Mining and included lunch with representatives of communities which have benefited from Banks’ operations through employment, money going into the local economy and grants for good causes.
Mr Neill visited five former mining sites on the Blagdon Estate that have been fully restored after the completion of coaling, before taking a tour of Northumberlandia, which is being formed near Cramlington from 1.5million tonnes of soil and clay from the Shotton mine.
Banks and the Blagdon Estate are investing £2.5million in the landform, which will be the centrepiece of a 14.5 hectare park.
Banks Group Environment and Community Director Mark Dowdall said: “The way that modern surface mines work is very different from the image that often persists from previous decades — they’re efficient, carefully managed operations, with a range of measures in place to minimise their environmental impact before, during and after coaling, and I think the Minister was both surprised and impressed by the set-up at Shotton.
“The mining industry continues to be a major contributor to the North East economy and we wanted to demonstrate this to the Minister at a time when we feel there is an unfair presumption against surface mining within the present planning system.”