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UK opencast coal mine clears first hurdle

World Coal,

The first steps towards developing an opencast coal mine in the northeast of England have been taken.

Plans, put forward by UK Coal Surface Mines, have been approved by Gateshead Council. The scheme would see the construction of a mine that would produce 1 million t of coal and 175 000 t of fireclay from a former coal mine and coke works between Stanley and Marley Hill.

The scheme is still subject to approval from councillors at Durham County Council, which is yet to discuss the proposed mine development.

If permission is given a site Liaison Committee will be established with regular meetings held to report on environmental performance, progress on the site and to discuss wider neighbourhood issues. A UK Coal Community Fund will also be established.

Anneliese Hutchinson, director of development and public protection at Gateshead Council, said: “The planning application was discussed at length by Gateshead Council’s planning and development committee with speakers both for and against the proposal addressing committee members.”

“Councillors had previously made site visits to see first-hand its likely impacts on the surrounding area and how an open cast would operate,” Hutchinson added.

“After careful consideration of the comprehensive report, and having listened to the views of all the speakers, committee members approved the application subject to a large number of planning conditions and a legal agreement which will help to ensure the environmental impacts are effectively managed and controlled,” Hutchinson concluded.

Coal mined at the Marley Hill site will be sold to power plants.

The haulage of coal will be along A roads in the area towards the A1 and lorry movements will average six per hour.

Alison Reid, of UK Coal Surface Mines, said: “We are very pleased that Gateshead’s planning committee has recognised the substantial value and benefit of the Marley Hill scheme.”

“The scheme will reclaim a 23 hectare derelict site and clean up 1.8 hectare of contamination. In addition, the scheme will provide 62 local jobs over four-and-half years bringing many economic benefits to the local communities,” Reid added.

The area around Marley Hill Colliery was first mined as far back as the 17th century, with the current mine being finally closed in 1983 leaving a significant amount of contamination on the site. The surface mining scheme could provide treatment for the contaminated areas over a period of about 4 years. After this, UK Coal Surface Mines said that the land will be restored creating a mix of agricultural and recreational land rich in biodiversity.

Written by Sam Dodson

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