Saturday, 16 February 2013

Worried about Whittonstall

I have been working with Whittonstall Action Group who are opposing a planning application for a large opencast development at Hoodsclose, overlooking the villages of Ebchester and Medomsley. The proposed site will be close to a primary school and will operate for at least 7 years. Restoration after opencast takes decades. The landscape is permanently altered and for biodiversity to even partially recover, a detailed aftercare plan is needed. A restoration team would have to carry out remedial work to prevent habitat destruction. If restoration is carried out, the impact on biodiversity leads to populations that are more susecptible to disease and extinction.1 If restoration is not carried out then we are left with land that is of no ecological value.

The reason that I am particularly worried about the long term future of the Hoodsclose site is that UK Coal have sold the land to a property developer.2 They have not withdrawn the opencast application but they no longer own the land out of which they plan to extract 200 million tonnes of coal. The only explanation for this bizzare piece of business is that they are experiencing such financial difficulties that they need the cash.3

The sale demonstrates that any restoration pledges made by UK Coal must now be viewed with suspicion. Recent developments should convince the planners at Northumberland County Council of what we already know; that UK Coal have absolutely no interest in the long term future of the land, the school or the people of the surrounding villages.

Coal is our heritage, not our future.


Links
Recent ITV Coverage of the development can be found here:
http://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2013-02-15/opponents-say-opencast-mine-would-scar-northumberland-landscape/

1. http://liamrcarr.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/succession-genetic-diversity-and-coal.html
2. http://www.journallive.co.uk/northumberland-sites/corbridge-northumberland/corbridge-and-stocksfield-news/2013/02/14/confusion-as-uk-coal-sells-land-ahead-of-whittonstall-opencast-hearing-61634-32810584/
3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/industry/mining/9735823/UK-Coal-Britains-biggest-coal-miner-makes-final-bid-for-survival.html

2 comments:

Gordon Foster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon Foster said...

I had mixed feeling about the opencast mine at Whittonstall.

But after watching the ITV news report - I'm now dead against it.