Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has now rejected the plans to instate an opencast mine on the Northumberland coast; overturning the initial decision by Northumberland County Council.

The controversial plans for an opencast mine were originally approved by Northumberland County Council in 2016. This would have seen the extraction of three million tonnes of coal, sandstone and fireclay from a site near Druridge Bay and estimated to create at least 100 jobs in the local area.

But the plans were strongly opposed by campaigners, who said the mine at Highthorn would ruin wildlife and tourism which prompted the communities secretary Sajid Javid to delay the government’s decision (which was due on 5 March 2018), before recently announcing that the planning was rejected.

The developer of the proposed mine, Banks Mining, said it was an “absolutely perverse” decision that “flies in the face” of the approval given by the government’s planning inspector and the county council in 2016, said managing director Gavin Styles.

“Mr Javid has chosen to flagrantly disregard this expert opinion from the comfort of his London office without ever having taken the time to even visit the area in question,” he said.

According to Mr Styles, the mining scheme would have created at least 100 jobs and added around £87 million into the local economy. He now says that the three million tonnes of coal would have to come from “potentially unstable” overseas markets.

Those opposing the plans take a different view on the decision. The Spokeswoman for the Save Druridge campaign said they were delighted that Sajid Javid had “understood the immense impact coal has had on climate change and also on communities which have had to live with opencast mines”.

“Many of these have been in tranquil and scenic areas and have devastated our local wildlife, landscape and caused increased traffic, noise and dust pollution for many years,”

Friends of the Earth campaigner, Rose Dickinson, said the decision is “an important step forward has been taken in ending the era of fossil fuels”.

“This is the first coal mine ever to be rejected in the UK because of climate change impacts – a vindication for everyone who has been calling for fossil fuels to be left in the ground,” she said.

A department spokesman for Mr Javid had “considered all the evidence heard at the public inquiry, together with the recommendation of the planning inspector. His decision took account of all material considerations, including the potential environmental impacts of the scheme.”

This decision is another example of the government’s stance in moving away from coal-based power generation by 2025. You can read our recent blog on the UK’s move towards renewable energy and the future for the coal mining industry here.


Jordans Solicitors has a department working with ex coal miners looking into their Vibration White Finger claims as it has come to light that many miners missed out on £1000’s. If you’re an ex miner and think you may have a claim, contact a member of our VWF team free on 03303 001103.

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