Coal Authority backs Northumberland surface mine plans

Coal Authority backs Northumberland surface mine plans

The group responsible for licensing UK coal mining operations has backed proposals for a new surface mine in Northumberland.

The Coal Authority has written to Northumberland County Council to express its 'support and encouragement' for the Highthorn surface mine.

Banks Mining is the company behind the mine which will be situated to the south east of the village of Widdrington.

If it comes to fruition it could see 50 new jobs being created and a further 50 existing jobs transferring from the company's current surface mine sites in Northumberland.

A spokesperson for The Coal Authority said: "The authority is a statutory consultee on all UK mining activities, and has a duty to respond to planning applications and development plans in order to protect the public and the environment in mining areas.

"The role of surface mining is critical to the continued supply of good quality coal for the market in the UK, and both the Coal Authority and electricity generators believe that the coal supply in the UK should contain a significant proportion of indigenous production.

"Coal supplied from the UK offers security against the volatility of international coal prices, freight rates, exchange rates and a reliance on port capacity, and it should be recognised that the importation of coal from many thousands of miles away has its own environmental footprint."

If the scheme goes ahead, it will also mean an end to the removal of up to 62,000 tonnes of sand from the beach and dunes at Druridge Bay.

This follows Banks Mining reaching an agreement with the owner of a long-standing mineral planning permission which allows for this to be done in response to local requests that it be stopped.

The recently-submitted planning application for the mine also includes details of a major initiative which will aim to create an enhanced tourism offering and new wildlife habitats in and around the Druridge area.

Northumberland County Council is expected to make a decision on the Highthorn planning application in 2016.