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Banks Mining proposed opencast site receives local backing

Planning application for Ferneybeds development in Northumberland wins support of local parish council

PLANS for a new opencast coal mine in south-east Northumberland put forward by Banks Mining have won the backing of the local parish council. Widdrington Station & Stobswood Parish Council has written to Northumberland County Council to express its support for Banks’ proposed Ferneybeds scheme, located to the south of the village of Widdrington Station, near Ashington.

Banks are expected to extract around 752,000 tonnes of coal over a three-year period from the site, directly supporting 40 local jobs as well as bringing substantial new revenues into the local economy and supporting many other jobs in supply chain businesses. 

The detail of the planning application was finalized with the help of around 20 local residents and community representatives who took part in a series of community design workshops, which were set up by the company to give local people a strong voice in the proposed surface mining development.

Cllr Joseph Sennett, chair of Widdrington Station & Stobswoods Parish Council, said: ‘Our community is very used to surface mining and has sometimes been let down by other companies that haven’t lived up to the promises they made, but right from the start of the consultation process, Banks were very upfront, explaining what was planned, listening to what we had to say and making changes to their plans in response to the concerns expressed.’

A new community benefits fund worth around £75,000 forms part of the Ferneybeds proposal, which aims to deliver a range of community and environmental enhancements in partnership with local people. Included in the fund will be a new nature corridor that will help restore the site and improve the habitats for local wildlife. 

Banks already employ more than 200 people, most of whom work at Shotton surface mine in south-east Northumberland and Brenkley Lane site in Newcastle. The company has maintained an operational presence in the region for more than three decades.  

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