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UK Government rejects proposed opencast coal project

26 March 2018

UK Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has thrown out plans to develop a new opencast coal mine at Highthorn near Druridge Bay, 35km north of Newcastle, even through they were approved by Northumberland County Council in 2016. Javid said his decision took account of all material considerations, including the potential environmental impacts of the scheme.

Map of the planned mine - Image: Save Druridge
Map of the planned mine - Image: Save Druridge

Developer Banks Mining said it was an "absolutely perverse" decision. Managing director Gavin Styles said it flew in the face of the approval given by the government's planning inspector and the county council.

The Highthorn scheme, with an annual output of three million tonnes of coal, sandstone and fireclay, would have created at least 100 jobs and invested £87m into the Northumberland economy, Styles said. Three million tonnes of coal would otherwise have to come from "potentially unstable" overseas markets, he said.

The Save Druridge campaign said it was delighted Mr Javid had understood the immense impact coal has had on climate change and also on communities which have had to live with opencast mines, including devastation of local wildlife, increased traffic, and noise and dust pollution.

Britain plans to phase-out coal use at its power stations by 2025 as a part of its efforts to meet its climate targets, and is part of an international alliance pushing other countries to do the same.

Britain has a legally binding target to cut emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, such as those produced by fossil-fuel-based power plants, by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050. It has also signed up to the international Paris agreement to curb emissions.


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