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Government to rule on Northumberland coal mine

Coal fired power station 3to2

Government is set to rule on a proposed coal mine in Northumberland. 

Despite government commitments to reduce the nations carbon footprint and halt climate change, 3M tonnes of coal could be mined in Druridge Bay if plans for a new coal mine there are approved.  

Minister for communities and local government James Brokenshire has begun an examination of plans to open a new coal mine in the United Kingdom. 

Plans for the Highthorn Surface mine had previous been thrown out by Sajid Javid, his predecessor, but the move was overturned in the court.  

The project is led by Banks Group, the only such group pushing to open new surface coal mining facilities in the UK. The last deep coal mine in the UK, Kellingley Colliery, wrapped up its operations in December 2015.  

On its website, Banks Group says it carries out the coal extraction in the most “sustainable way possible”.  

“As a company we are committed to mining coal in the most sustainable way possible, helping to ensure that the country has sufficient power to meet its energy needs.” 

With regards to coal extraction, the National Planning Policy Framework states that: “Permission should not be given for the extraction of coal unless the proposal is environmentally acceptable or can be made so by planning conditions or obligations; or if not, it provides national, local or community benefits which clearly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission.” 

Banks Mining managing director Gavin Styles described the Highthorn scheme as “sound”.  

“The Highthorn scheme has been examined in extreme detail by both a local authority with substantial experience of the extractive industries and an independent planning inspector and was found to be a sound scheme that should be allowed to go ahead,” he said. 

“We would therefore urge Mr Brokenshire to give us permission to progress work at Highthorn as soon as possible, and thereby enable us to extend a track record of investing and creating jobs in Northumberland that stretches back four decades.” 

Banks Mining argues that the Highthorn scheme could create 100 jobs on the site, invest £87M into the Northumberland economy and keep £200M within the UK economy by not importing coal. 

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