“Unwanted” plans for an opencast coal mine on the outskirts of Newcastle have been categorically rejected.
City councillors have issued a powerful ‘no’ to the Banks Group’s proposals to flip greater than 250 acres of green belt land at Dewley Hill, close to Throckley, into a brand new mining operation.
At a three-hour on-line listening to on Friday morning, Newcastle City Council’s planning committee voted unanimously, 11-0, to refuse permission for the vastly contentious scheme.
The plans may have seen 800,000 tonnes of coal and 400,000 tonnes of fireclay, for the neighbouring Throckley brickworks, extracted from the green area on the western edge of the town.
But councillors stood by a conclusion from metropolis planners, who suggested that the mine can be “inappropriate” for the green belt and “can’t be thought-about ‘environmentally acceptable'”.
The refusal is a 3rd blow for Banks’ mining operations within the North East this yr, with the agency having earlier misplaced bids to prolong the use of its Bradley mine in County Durham and arrange an opencast web site close to Druridge Bay in Northumberland.
More than 5,000 objections had been lodged in opposition to the Dewley Hill plans, plus a petition signed by greater than 19,000 folks.
Jude Campbell, of the Defend Dewley Hill marketing campaign group, informed the committee on Friday that opencast was “essentially the most harmful and noxious kind of mining, devastating every little thing in its path”.
She added: “We know from expertise that it takes a few years for true restoration and the suggestion that the results of an open cast right here can be quick time period is past deluded.
“We acknowledge and respect that coal mining is embedded in our group’s heritage however it’s not our future.”
Local councillor Linda Wright, a lifelong Throckley resident from a mining household, additionally urged the committee to reject the scheme – saying she “grew up within the shadow of an open cast mine, lorries trundling alongside our essential highway by means of the village”.
Coun Wright stated: “By defending Dewley Hill from this undesirable open cast mine we would depart these green areas for these new residents to get pleasure from in addition to these of us who’ve loved it and benefited from it for years. It can be a blight on our panorama and a improvement too far.”
Jeannie Raine, group relations supervisor at The Banks Group, argued that the mine would assist 200 jobs, make investments £75 million within the area, and see 33,000 bushes planted when the land is restored.
Backers of the mission, which had obtained greater than 1,400 letters of assist, repeatedly pointed to the argument that rejecting the mine would merely lead to the UK importing extra fossil fuels from abroad.
She stated: “We are on the forefront of arising with options to tackle the local weather emergency. But whereas the UK nonetheless wants coal, a greater future will not be achieved by offshoring our local weather duties. Your officers settle for the UK wants coal from Dewley Hill.
“And whereas UK business continues to want coal, will you assist native jobs throughout these difficult occasions or will you dismiss them and easily offshore your local weather duties by dragging it from the opposite aspect of the world with far larger emissions?”
The brickworks additionally repeated arguments that being denied entry to the 10-year provide of fireclay at Dewley Hill can be a “devastating” blow.
John Lambert, of Ibstock Brick, informed councillors that fireclay was essential to the Throckley enterprise and that its 47 employees have been “extraordinarily dissatisfied to discover out that their jobs are solely worthy of being given average weight” within the council’s analysis of the plans.
The Unite union’s nationwide officer for development, Jerry Swain, additionally spoke in assist of the mine, saying that 200 jobs have been “on the road” on the time when the North East financial system had been ravaged by Covid-19.
He was compelled to deny that there was a battle in Unite endorsing politicians with green new deal ambitions, like North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll, whereas supporting a proposed coal mine – telling that committee that whereas coal is required within the UK, native employees ought to profit from that.
Planning committee member John-Paul Stephenson, a member of the council’s Labour cupboard, stated that approving the mine can be an “insult” to younger local weather campaigners within the metropolis.
Lib Dem colleague Doreen Huddart added: “I do not assume it ticks all of the green packing containers it may. I’m not certain what it contributes to our efforts to average local weather change in any respect.”
While a number of committee members cited local weather change and the council’s dedication to make Newcastle a internet zero metropolis by 2030, metropolis planners had really discovered that the mine would “not have a fabric affect” on nationwide or native carbon discount targets.
Committee chair Hazel Stephenson agreed with officers’ view that the financial advantages of the plans have been outweighed by the environmental hurt performed within the green belt, saying that the “vital hurt” had not been adequately addressed by the builders.
While the proposed mining operation would have lasted three and a half years, the council estimated that it could take greater than 18 years for the land to be restored.