Public meeting arranged over opencast proposal

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A public meeting is being held next month to discuss a controversial surface-mine proposal.

Banks Mining had submitted a planning application to Northumberland County Council for its proposed Highthorn site, earmarked for the south east of Widdrington and near Druridge Bay.

The scheme has divided opinion in the community and, as a result, it will be the subject of a specially-arranged public meeting, taking place on Thursday, February 25, at Widdrington Community Centre, between 6pm and 8pm.

Coun Scott Dickinson, county councillor for the Druridge Bay ward, said: “I have been contacted by people who are in favour of this application and also by people who are against it. For me as a local member, it has been virtually impossible to represent the views of the community.

“I have asked for this pubic meeting so residents from both sides can have questions answered and the county council’s strategic planning committee can hear their views. I hope that everybody who wants to make their feelings known will attend the public meeting and I believe they will be able to ask questions about the proposal.”

Members of the strategic planning committee are also set for a site visit.

Banks says that the development would create at least 50 new jobs, while 50 existing roles would be transferred from its current surface-mine sites elsewhere in the county.

But opponents fear that one of Northumberland’s most accessible, open and beautiful areas will be spoiled forever should the plans be approved. Two petitions, with around 20,000 signatures, have been handed in to the county council in opposition.