Druridge Bay is a 7 mile bay along the Northumberland coastline between Amble and Cresswell, considered by many as the jewel in the crown for the region. It attracts thousands of visitors every year including; dog walkers, people who want to stroll along the coastline, birdwatchers, holiday makers and many many more. On Tuesday 5th July Northumberland County Council gave the go-ahead to an opencast coal mine that will be situated alongside the dunes on the Cresswell end of Druridge bay, after councillors voted unanimously in support of the mine.
On decision day there was more than 150 of us from around the region and we were joined by Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party and Craig Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Friends of the Earth at County Hall in Morpeth, Northumberland to show councillors the strength of feeling against the opencast mine, but unfortunately they had already made their mind up. The councillors spent the strategic planning committee meeting congratulating themselves, the planning department and Banks mining, rather than discussing the issues that many of their own constituents had raised concerning the opencast mine, and at some stages during the meeting the councillors also made derogatory remarks towards people who attended the meeting to oppose the planning application. It is quite distasteful when those that are there to represent you and your views decide they are somehow better than you.
The decision can still be overturned as the new shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner, in his first act upon being promoted to the post of shadow energy secretary has asked the Secretary of State, Greg Clark to call in the planning application for the opencast; “This planning application for a new opencast mine presents a concrete challenge to a cornerstone policy announcement made by the Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change last autumn. As such, it must be resolved at the government level.”
This call has been echoed by Conservative MP for Berwick Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who represents the Druridge Bay area; “I am extremely concerned that this application has been approved and it is in direct conflict with our national policy on energy production and risks the commitments we have made under the Paris Agreement.”
We await with baited breath the decision from the Secretary of State, but in the meantime please contact your MP and make your opinions known!