"Towards the millenium - will there be an opencast mine in
North East Opencast Action Group Press Release 25th September 1997
"Towards the millenium - will there be an opencast mine in your backyard?"
The North East region is one of the major opencast coal producing areas in England. In the year 1994/5 our area produced 2.9 million tonnes of saleable coal, in 1995/96 this rose to 3.66 million tonnes. This coal is destined for Blyth, British Alcan and the power stations of the Midlands.
To maintain anything like this production the opencast operators need to find new sites. Where will these sites be located?
As part of the consultation exercise for the Durham County Local Minerals Plan, the Mineral Planning Authority produced maps of prospect areas in which named companies were interested. The aim was laudible, to try and produce a planned strategy for opencast coal mining in the county. This document produced instant public outcry, most notably in the Lanchester area. Public meetings were called, the press activated and the document was rapidly withdrawn. Too late, properties were already blighted.
The scandal of the situation lies in the fact that since the privatisation of the coal industry there is no national landbank registry of opencast interests. The land holdings of opencast coal companies are confidential. Their interests in your backyard will not appear as part of your local search if you are buying a house. All too often houses are bought soon to be blighted by an opencast planning application.
Do you know if a company is propecting in your area?
Are you aware of the fact that your house value may have fallen by up to 40%, since you bought it?
There is a way to find out. Mining companies have to hold an exploration licence if they wish to prospect for coal in a specific area. These are issued by the Coal Authority.
The list below contains the names of companies and prospect areas for which licences are held in the North East. The second part of the list is for those areas with an opencast licence, sites actively coaling or about to commence.
Sites in the north east with exploration licences/agreements
Hall Construction Ltd. Tursdale House Bowburn
Rackwood Colliery Co. Quarrington Bowburn
RJB Mining Ltd Bothal Burn Morpeth Brenkley Castle Dene Dewley Hill Herrington Colliery Horsegate Maidens Hall Morpeth Marley Hill (Revised) Sunniside Stainsby Bank Steadsburn Morpeth Stobswood Extension Stoney Heap Whittonstall Consett Woodhead Consett
Ward Bros Mining Ltd Kielder Forest area
Ambion Brick Co. Ltd Clarence Farm Extension
Coal Contractors Ltd Low Gordon Ramshaw
HJ Banks Ltd Gardeners House Dinnington Low West House Tow Law Northwood Pithouse West Brandon Pegswood Moor Farm Morpeth
Hall Construction Ltd South Brandon Extension Areas B, C, D
Mott MacDonald Tyne Brewery
RJB Mining Ltd. Castle Farm Tow Law Priors Close North Lumley Whitwell Drift Bowburn Chester House Extension Morpeth Colliers Dean Morpeth Herrington Colliery Maidens Hall Morpeth Plenmellor Haltwhistle Stobswood Morpeth
Steetly Brick Ltd Railway Quarry Willington
The Coal Authority will not release details of particular areas for commercial confidentiality reasons.
To be for-warned is to be for-armed. Local pressure is the only way to stop mining companies getting planning permission. For futher information on forming a local action group please contact the North East Opencast Action Group, c/o Howard A. Armstrong, Holme Farm House, Old Quarrington, Durham.