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Banks Mining ends four-year coal fight at Highthorn

Decision comes after government rejects controversial plan for coal in Northumberland for a second time

Dominic Ellis
|Oct 28|magazine6 min read

Mining bosses have conceded defeat over plans to dig for coal in Northumberland after the government last month rejected a Banks Mining scheme at Highthorn, near Druridge Bay, for a second time.

According to a report by Chronicle Live, the company will not challenge the decision. 

The company said the mine would create at least 100 well-paid, full-time jobs, resulting in investment of around £100 million into the Northumberland economy and see supply chain contracts worth a total of £48 million to locally based businesses. But environmental campaigners said it would harm the local environment and worsen climate change.

Plans were approved by a planning inspector and then rejected by then Communities Secretary Sajid Javid. Banks Mining then won a High Court bid to challenge that decision, which was rejected in September.

In a statement issued on behalf of Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, the decision to reject the plans was explained as being due to the "substantial extent of the landscape harm means that the proposal is still not environmentally acceptable, nor can it be made so by planning conditions or obligations".

Gavin Styles, executive director at Banks Mining, says: "In order to build back better, we need something to build with! We remain firm in our conviction that, while British industry still needs essential minerals like coal, fireclay, and brick shale, they should be mined in the UK in the most environmentally responsible way possible.

“However, having carefully considered the Secretary of State’s purely political and deeply disappointing decision to reject our Highthorn planning application, we have concluded that issuing a challenge to it would not be the right course of action.

“This has been a difficult conclusion for us to reach as we are hugely proud of the exemplary work of our highly-skilled team, know that there will be substantial domestic demand for these minerals for many years to come and are only too aware of the impact that the Secretary of State’s misguided decision will have on many lives and businesses across our region."

Although it has decided not to take its case for Highthorn any further, Banks Mining has reaffirmed its commitment to pursuing the proposed Dewley Hill surface mine to the west of Newcastle, which is expected to come before the city council’s planning committee before the end of the year, the report adds.

Styles said: “We hear a great deal of Government talk about ‘levelling up’ the regional economy, but it is the likes of ourselves and other North East employers that actually take the responsibility for creating the jobs that are central to achieving this goal, and we hope Newcastle City Council will support our continuing job creation ambitions at Dewley Hill."

Chronicle Live report
Mining Global magazine