Mining plans move away from village

PLANS for a new Northumberland surface mine have been re-drawn to take operations further away from homes.

Banks Mining announced in July that it was looking to open a new mine at Highthorn, near Widdrington Village.

Consultation is still in the early stages with the community about the proposal, but following initial feedback the company has amended the area it plans to mine.

Now fields to the north east of Widdrington will be excluded from any application, and the business is also hoping to move the boundaries further away from other pockets of residential areas as the scheme design process moves forward.

Banks Group Communications Manager Katie Perkin 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.

“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.”

Banks says the site, inland from Druridge Bay, is one of the best and largest remaining coal resources in England, and the mining project could safeguard 150 jobs for more than a decade.

The first phase of test drilling is under way and a series of community panels will be set up next year to seek residents’ views, before a planning application is submitted next summer at the earliest.

Widdrington Village Parish Chairman Valerie Seddon said: “This is good news. We have met with representatives from Banks and discussed staying away from various other properties, and to see if they can shorten the period of operations. We are very happy with the way they are consulting us and we will continue discussions with them.”