Banks Mining, which is part of The Banks Group, has submitted an application to the relevant authorities to dig 3 million tonnes of coal by 2023 from an opencast mine located near Widdrington in Northumberland. However, the company has halved its target for extraction and reduced the mine size after locals protested the opening of the mine.
Broadcaster Bill Oddie joined the local protesters at the family beach party protest at Druridge Bay and made a speech. Prior to joining the event, Oddie said that when he heard that an opencast mine was going to start near Druridge, he did not believe that such a thing was possible. He thought it was a prank.
Banks Mining stated that opencast mining in the region would bring in an investment of about £120 million, create a minimum of 100 new jobs, boost tourism in the region, and even create new habitats for wildlife.
The mining contractor is still awaiting approval from Northumberland County Council. Should the project receive the green light, the mining will begin later in 2016.
Banks Group Development Relations Coordinator Jeannie Kielty stated that the Discover Druridge initiative, developed as a part of their Highthorn proposals, will give rise to an improved tourism opportunity while creating several new wildlife habitats in and around the area. The initiative will also provide more funding and facilities so that more people can enjoy the beauty of the region.
Kielty said that the initiative would involve the locals and tourism and conservation bodies to sustain the Druridge Bay area, and The Banks Group will be providing the infrastructure needed to handle the increased footfalls that the project hopes to attract.
Kielty stated that the comments by Oddie about the impact of surface mining in Northumberland were inaccurate. She reiterated that there were already several wildlife habitats, such as nature reserves in East Chevington and Hauxley. These nature reserves were created when previous mining contractors had started surface mining operations.