June 28th, 2016
pdate from Save Druridge September 2016 – The Highthorn Planning Application has been “called in” by the Secretary of State. This means that the Secretary of State has decided to take over the decision making process on this application from the local authority as it sees that the application may conflict with policy on a national level or that the decision is of national importance.
ELF was able to assist the community with drafting their call in letter and is delighted that this matter has been called in by the Secretary of State. We will be working with the Save Druridge community going forward towards the inquiry. Some of the issues identified for exploration include whether the proposal is consistent with government policy on climate change, conserving and enhancing the natural environment, sustainable extraction and government policy on replacing coal fired power stations. All these matters were raised in our letter before action. We would also wish to congratulate the group on a truly inspiring campaign!
“Many thanks to everyone at ELF in helping to achieve this momentous achievement, I don’t think we would have managed without you” Duncan Lawrence
June 2016 – The Planning Officer in charge of the Highthorn Planning Application will be recommending approval of the application with conditions attached.
What do locals do when they wish to protect sites from quarrying?
In Northumberland, a local community group called ‘Save Druridge’ is campaigning to protect Druridge Bay and its pristine coastline from the plan to develop Highthorn opencast coal mine, which would be the largest in the country.
Part of the case being made for the site is based on an agricultural restoration plan. A lot of quarrying has taken place in the area in the past; but the sites have been restored post-operation with immense benefits for local species, the environment and local residents.
Druridge Bay is now also the habitat of pink-footed geese and many other species that are likely to flee if the development goes ahead.
The project not only seems to contradict Amber Rudd’s speech last year stressing the importance of phasing out of coal to lessen the UK’s contribution to climate change; it is also likely to adversely impact the health of locals through air and noise pollution. Despite these consequences, public consultation has been limited and accounts on the many adverse environmental impacts of the mine on local people ignored.
The development process in Druridge puts into question the strength of restoration plans as environmental protection tools: the need to preserve local ecosystems often seems like a paper exercise, easily overridden at the post-quarrying stage by developers. Considering this lack of safeguards, Save Druridge’s approach is to reject the project fully.
The campaign has received support from Green Party leader Natalie Bennett. The RSPB and Wildlife Trust have shared very strong objections to the development project. The ever brilliant Stephanie McGibbon, environmental consultant and network member of ELF is assisting the community in responding to the public consultation. If you would like more information on the case please follow links to the very active Save Druridge website, Twitter and/or Facebook page (closed group).
Photo by Christine Westerback.