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Coal Authority backs Highthorn mine proposals

Banks Mining

Banks Mining receive the Authority’s unequivocal support for new surface mine in Northumberland

THE organization responsible for licensing coal mining operations across the UK has given its unequivocal support to proposals for a new surface mine in Northumberland.

The Coal Authority – an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change – has written to Northumberland County Council to express its ‘support and encouragement’ for the Highthorn surface mine that Banks Mining are looking to operate to the south-east of the village of Widdrington.

The Authority’s letter highlights the way in which Banks Mining ‘is seeking to work coal in environmentally and socially acceptable ways to meet the market requirements’, how the scheme ‘will contribute to the Government’s policy framework for a diverse and secure energy supply’ and how it ‘incorporates the principles of sustainable development’.

It also references the fact that ‘rather than diverting investment away from an area, surface mining of coal has often created inward investment’.

Banks Mining have designed the Highthorn scheme to bring a wide range of economic, employment and social benefits to local communities, with at least 50 new jobs being created at the new site and a further 50 existing jobs transferring from the company’s current surface mine sites in Northumberland.

A spokesperson for the Coal Authority, said: ‘The Authority is a statutory consultee on all UK mining activities and has a duty to respond to planning applications and development plans in order to protect the public and the environment in mining areas.

‘The role of surface mining is critical to the continued supply of good-quality coal for the market in the UK, and both the Coal Authority and the electricity generators believe that the coal supply in the UK should contain a significant proportion of indigenous production.

‘Coal supplied from the UK offers security against the volatility of international coal prices, freight rates, exchange rates and a reliance on port capacity, and it should be recognized that the importation of coal from many thousands of miles away has its own environmental footprint.’

Jeannie Kielty, development relations co-ordinator at The Banks Group, added: ‘The Coal Authority has assessed our proposals within the context of the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which sets extremely challenging standards for surface coal mining, and to now receive such unequivocal support from the Authority is testament to the quality and detail of the work that has gone into creating them.’

Northumberland County Council is expected to make a decision on the Highthorn planning application in 2016.

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