My first ever blog post was called "Down the Woods" It was about the forest sell off (that was subsequently abandoned) and an opencast planning application (that was subsequntly refused) I claim no credit for either postive outcome. but a happy coincidence nontheless.
UK Coal are back, and they want to opencast the Pont valley, A planning application to opencast was refused a few months ago thanks to the work of councillors and local activists. UK Coal have appealed the decision and are trying to get the decision to refuse planning overturned.
They will say that we [the activists] are NIMBYs. Well the pont valley is my backyard and I don't want an opencast coal mine in it so yes I am a NIMBY but I don't want an opencast coal mine in your backyard either, or in anyone else's for that matter - there are other ways to generate electricity there are other energy resources and if it comes to it, and carbon capture takes off and I think it might just be burying the problem - then there are other ways of extracting it.
They will say that the opencast will not adversely effect the environment, What an absolute load of utter rubbish. The layers of soil and rock have taken millions of years to form, they will be dumped back in no pariticular order when UK coal have finished. Industrial scale opencast coal mining is relatively new, we are not fully aware of the long term environmental effects but one thing that I am sure of is that it will have an negative impact on biodiversity in the region. It is impossible to move an entire habitat, abiotic factors will not be the same in the new location, succession (the gradual increase in biodiversity over time) will have to restart. UK coal want to relocate mature ponds so they can mine underneath them. You don't have to be a great crested newt, a mayfly or a Biology lecturer to know that it will never work.
They will say that the opencast will create jobs, this is true - fixed term contract jobs that will be disappear just as quickly as the coal does. UK coal will also bring their own staff, which will do nothing for the local economy. We need long term investment in new technology and renewables that will create skilled, long term jobs for the future in the region.
They will say that they spend millions on improving the roads. That amounts so another roundabout to allow trucks and heavy machinary to turn into the coal field. The last thing we need is another roundabout 200yds from a one with 5 exits, they only vehicles that would ever turn right at this 'road improvment' would be those going to the Stanley area, the road has recently been widened and is now fine without a roundabout. The people who will be infuriated by the roundabout would be commuters who will face further potential delay when driving into Gateshead/Newcastle from the Consett area
But really it doesn't matter what highly paid executives and lawyers from UK Coal say. We the people of the local area must fight the appeal as effectively as we fought original application.
Coal is our heritage not our future.