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Javid calls in Druridge Bay opencast mine approval

Words: Huw Morris
Druridge Bay

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has called in controversial plans for an opencast coalmine at Druridge Bay in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council approved the £120 million scheme by Banks Mining to extract three million tonnes of coal from the site at Highthorn in July.

The DCLG has now written to Northumberland County Council requesting information on the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with government policies for meeting the challenge of climate change, for conserving and enhancing the natural environment and the sustainable extraction of minerals.

A public inquiry will also consider whether the development is consistent with the government’s commitment to replace coal-fired power stations, the government’s amended online guidance on renewable and low-carbon energy and the extent to which the proposal is consistent with the development plan for the area.

Northumberland County Council said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the move.

“We always recognised that the application would be controversial so were determined to involve a wide range of views,” said a spokesman.

“In the end, all members felt that a clear case had been made for the economic benefits both local and to the wider Northumberland area.

“At least 100 jobs that would have been created through the substantial investment offered by a firm with a track record of providing growth in the region have now been put in doubt by the secretary of state’s surprising decision.”

But environmental campaigners backed the move. Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “Hopefully, this means that ministers have realised that digging up yet more coal is completely contradictory to the Paris climate deal, and that planning rules must be changed to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

“Thousands of people objected to the ill-conceived opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay because it would be hugely damaging for the local area, threaten tourism and undermine efforts to tackle climate change.”