Highthorn

Frequently Asked Questions

What is it like living next to a Banks surface mine?

How much traffic will Highthorn generate and what route will it take?

We are still at an early stage of Highthorn’s design and details remain to be finalised; however at this stage the proposals indicate the site will generate a number of daily vehicle movements into and out of the site, the impact of these additional movements on the local roads will need to be assessed as part of the planning application.

We always try to use major A roads for the transportation of materials and to keep daily wagon movements as low as possible to minimise the impact on the local transport infrastructure whilst still operating an efficient and modern surface mining operation. It is anticipated that the main access point for the Highthorn site will be taken from the A1068 and will involve up to 150 loaded HGV leaving the site in a day.

How long will the site be operational?

This depends on a number of factors such as how much coal is extracted from the site, the coal market, the machinery used to extract the coal and the operating hours approved to work the site. However, based on our preliminary estimates, the site will be operational for a period of around eight to ten years extracting coal and restoring the site, with a further five years of aftercare.

How soon could work start at the site?

Banks Mining has had a presence in Northumberland since the 1980s and we would like our commitment and investment within the county to continue for the foreseeable future.

With this intention in mind as well as our other commitments within Northumberland, we see Highthorn as the natural follow-on from our mining activities at Shotton near Cramlington. On this basis, we have provisionally programmed the commencement of Highthorn during 2016.

Is Banks still planning to operate the Ferneybeds Surface Mine to the south of Widdrington Station?

We intend to start work at Ferneybeds as soon as we can but are currently in discussions with the electricity and water suppliers, Northern Power Grid and Northumbrian Water, to agree when they will remove their infrastructure from the site. We would like to start work at the site as soon as they have relocated their equipment.

It may be the case that we operate Highthorn at the same time as Ferneybeds but this will be discussed with the local community during the public consultation and depends on when the electricity and water suppliers make a decision about Ferneybeds.

Will Banks apply to extend the site at a later date?

At this time we have no plans to extend the area shown on the location plan, and following initial discussions with the community, we have already reduced the site by 460 hectares since we first launched the site in July 2013.

However, we have been mining coal in Northumberland for over 30 years and in order to sustain our business we are always investigating the potential of new sites across the county. Needless to say, whenever we have a new site to bring forward the community will be fully consulted and given an opportunity to shape the project themselves.

Do we still need coal?

The simple answer is yes.

Approximately one third of the electricity generated in the UK is produced by coal fired power stations. This electricity is essential to power the nation’s homes, hospitals, workplaces and industry, without it the lights would simply go out. Whilst the country develops a range of alternative ways to generate power it is essential that the supply of indigenous coal is maintained.

As a nation, we currently import in the region of 70% of the coal used to generate electricity in the UK. That is why the development of new surface coal mines is so important. By mining our own coal we:

  • Create UK job
  • Reduce the distance coal has to travel, thereby saving carbon in transportation
  • Ensure it is mined in a safe manner to the highest environmental standards
  • Support local businesses who provide support services to surface mines
  • Keep money within the UK
  • Increase the security of supply of power by reducing reliance on foreign countries for imported fuel

Will Banks be extracting any other materials from Highthorn?

We hope there may be a number of other minerals that we may be able to extract at Highthorn as well as coal. Principal amongst those is fireclay which is used by the building industry in the making of ceramics and also sandstone. Sandstone from our site at Shotton was used at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London during 2012 in the construction of the entrance walkway into the Olympic Park.

Will any new jobs be created by the Highthorn project?

For Banks Mining, Highthorn could represent a similar sized investment as our current site at Shotton near Cramlington in Northumberland. Shotton currently employs approximately 150 staff on site with many more staff based out of our head office in Durham.

We expect the same level of staffing to be required at Highthorn as we currently employ at Shotton. However, we are looking at ways to increase this number as we are keen to continue to invest in Northumberland and we strongly feel that this should include the training and development of new staff across a broad range of roles. We recognise how difficult the last few years have been economically and within the job market in the North East. Our development with care approach gives us a responsibility to continue our role as a major employer within Northumberland and look to expand this role in both numbers and skill development as much as possible. We take this responsibility very seriously and it is one we will rigorously protect and enforce.

We will look to confirm the extent of the roles available on site in due course, but as part of the Highthorn project we wish to support local apprenticeship schemes and to continue our successful relationship with local colleges which saw us appoint four new apprentices during 2012.

Highthorn represents the future of Banks Mining in Northumberland and as such there will be opportunities beyond those based on site. We will look to maximise the availability of these roles as much as possible and will look to employ people from the local area where feasible.

What restoration opportunities are there at Highthorn?

At Banks Mining we are always looking to push and improve ourselves and our restoration offers and plans. We are extremely proud of our role in the recently completed Northumberlandia, which was constructed based on our ‘restoration first’ principle – a first for the surface mining industry. Since opening in September 2012, Northumberlandia has received over 100,000 visitors and brought thousands of pounds to the local economy as a result.

We have high hopes for Highthorn and are just as ambitious in our attitude to what could be delivered as part of its restoration if consented. Highthorn’s unique location offers truly exciting potential for restoration opportunities and if so desired could also be delivered early within the project lifecycle to maximise the return to the local community.

We have lots of exciting and bold ideas that we are eager to share, but are also aware that you too may have ideas with true value and originality that we haven’t considered. You are the people who know this area best and instead of telling you what we think, we would love to work with you to develop the restoration ideas together to ensure that our offering meets the needs, aspirations and hopes of the community.

Will Highthorn have any effect on Druridge Bay and the beach?

We love Druridge Bay and its beautiful beach as much as you do and we respect the wild beauty of the Northumberland coastline which is reflected by the local designations which cover much of Druridge Bay. We wish to protect and in fact enhance this setting as much as possible whilst we are operating in the area, should it be approved.

From the start of our design process, and as you can see on the location plan, we have set a boundary between our site and that coastal strip which holds so much beauty and wildlife. We will not carry out extraction or storage activities within these areas and are working hard with our ecology teams to ensure that the areas we do work are actually of low ecological value or are used as agricultural land only. We will not work adjacent to the beach and will endeavour through our development with care principles to operate the site in the most advanced and responsible manner available to ensure the protection of a well loved Northumberland landmark.

Will Highthorn have any effect on the wildlife in the area?

We have appointed a number of wildlife and ecology experts who have extensive knowledge of this area and its wildlife. This team of people are working hard to assess what wildlife is currently within the site and its surrounding areas. We are also aware of the number of local interest groups and wildlife enthusiasts who have valuable and wide ranging knowledge of this area and we will utilise these resources as much as possible in addition to the ecology team.

In collaboration with the local authority’s wildlife experts and their advisors such as the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency to name a few, we will look to protect and enhance the local wildlife and biodiversity. Where necessary we will look to provide mitigation either on or off site to ensure that we act responsibly and do not cause excessive harm to any species or habitats which cannot be replaced at a later date.

Through the use of our biodiversity action plan, which works in conjunction with national and local legislation, regulation and good practice, we will work and survey the site year on year during its operation and beyond to ensure we remain on top of all ecologically sensitive issues and earn our name as a responsible developer who develops with care in all things.

What measures will Banks Mining take to control noise and dust?

How can my community group apply to the Banks Community Fund?

The Banks Community Fund supports local environmental and community improvement projects in the areas surrounding The Banks Group’s operations. Grants will normally be given out for up to £5,000, although higher amounts are sometimes considered. Successful applicants will be required to fundraise 10% of the total grant themselves.

If you would like more information about the fund then please contact James Eaglesham on 0191 378 6342 or james@bankscommunityfund.org.uk

Why have you not provided an accurate plan and timescale for the project?

Further details our draft design were provided at Workshop 2 and our current proposals can be found on the Highthorn Project Details webpage. However, as Highthorn is still in the development phase with no planning application submitted, there are no final decisions on the plans or the timescales. The purpose of the Workshops is to work with the community to help us shape the best possible planning application for everyone.

If it does go ahead, please explain clearly and concisely to the community what exactly will be happening and what it will look like. Perhaps smaller workshops at a parish level to encourage maximum engagement.

Thank you for your suggestion regarding smaller workshops, however the consensus opinion from the greater group was that people would like to stay together in one group. We try to accommodate this desire in Workshop 2 but will continually reassess the situation in an attempt to ensure that we hold meaningful and worthwhile discussions with everyone. We will ensure that through a range of consultation events attendance at parish council meetings, further workshops and exhibitions, that you will all have ample opportunity to see the proposals and have them fully outlined prior to the submission of any planning application.

Why this area?

Banks Mining is interested in pursuing potential new surface mines that have a commercially viable coal resource that can be recovered with regard to environmental sensitivities in the area. Highthorn is a long standing potential site identified within the high quality Northumberland coalfield. Following our site investigations, we believe this location contains high quality Northumberland coal that can be used to provide electricity for homes, businesses and schools across the UK.

What is the honest actual time scale going to be?

We promise to always be open and honest with you about our proposals. We will only make promises in relation to timescales when we are sure we can meet those promises. We have been looking very carefully at the plant which we will use to excavate the minerals at Highthorn should we receive permission to do so as well as the number of staff, shift patterns and hours of operation for the site. We need to be sure that our proposals are environmentally acceptable and we can meet all the planning conditions. The more plant and people employed on the site helps us complete the project at a quicker pace. We are confident that completion of the project within the 8 to 10 year period that we have indicated is possible.

How old will we be when we can enjoy our coastline again?

Everyone can continue to enjoy the coastline throughout our proposed mining operations. Please be assured that we have absolutely no plans, intentions or desire to mine the beach and our current, draft excavation area is over ½ km from the beach.

Will the site be extended during its lifetime?

We have no plans to extend the area shown on the location plan, and following initial discussions with the community, we have already reduced the site by 460 hectares since we brought our plans to the community in July 2013.

We have been mining coal in Northumberland for over 30 years and in order to sustain our business we are always investigating the potential of new sites across the county. Whenever we have a new site to bring forward, the community will be fully consulted and given an opportunity to help us shape the project.

Given significant drop in the price of coal, what assurance does the community have that Banks will not acquire permission and then wait until the price increases – thereby extending the time period of the site?

Any planning permission which is granted by a local planning authority includes a timeframe by which the site must commence. As our existing sites within Northumberland are due for completion in the near future, we are very keen to progress the Highthorn site to ensure continuity of employment for our existing workforce, to deliver new employment opportunities for local people and to provide continuity of high quality coal to our existing customers.

This is the first application being proposed. What guarantee to residents have that this is also the only and last application?

We are always looking for future surface mining opportunities. As a responsible developer we plan and design our projects carefully ensuring that they are both environmentally acceptable but also appropriate to the market conditions. At this time we have no plans to pursue any other projects within the area or submit further applications. However, if this changes at any time in the future, as we did with Highthorn, we will let the community know as soon as we establish an interest in the area.

Why is the area to the north of the C116 required by the scheme?

Our early draft site designs were investigating the potential of a larger scheme. This scheme would have required enough land for us to store the overburden material removed from the ground whilst the coal beneath was being extracted. We have now reduced the size of the scheme that we are considering which means that we need less land for the storage of that material. We too agree that crossing the C116 is not ideal, and have been actively looking for alternative land for the storage of material for the smaller site, and we are pleased to say that we have been able to achieve that desire allowing us to remove the land north of C116 from the proposals for any mining activity. However, we are still exploring ideas for using this land for restoration activities for things such as landscape improvements and habitat creation.

Does the reduction in the coal price bring a risk of site being uneconomical?

As a responsible business, we undertake a rigorous assessment before submitting any planning application, which includes a thorough assessment of the quality of coal, the coal market and the price of coal. We are confident that Highthorn represents one of the best remaining coal resources within the high quality Northumberland coalfield.

How is the current coal price effecting Bank’s profitability?

As a responsible business, we undertake a rigorous assessment before submitting any planning application, which includes a thorough assessment of the quality of coal, the coal market and the price of coal. We are confident that Highthorn represents one of the best remaining coal resources within the high quality Northumberland coalfield. We are very proud of our performance as a business, displaying growth in these difficult economic times and our diversified portfolio of projects gives us financial strength to manage changes in the market.

What protection will be in place with regards to re-instating the land if Banks were to go bankrupt?

We will be required to supply a restoration bond to satisfy the local planning authority and the landowners. A restoration bond is a financial guarantee that restoration works will happen if an operator of a development gets into financial difficulties or ceases trading. However, Banks Mining has completed 110 surface mining developments since the 1970s and we have never failed to restore a site, many of which have won awards for their restoration. Our diversified business model working in mining, property and renewable energy gives us a strong financial position to ensure this remains the case, and if given permission to extract coal, we’re excited about the restoration opportunities at Highthorn.

Will a restoration bond be a condition of planning?

We will be required to supply a restoration bond, both by the local planning authority and the landowners. A restoration bond is a financial guarantee that restoration works will happen if an operator of a development gets into financial difficulties or ceases trading. However, Banks Mining have completed over 100 surface mining developments since the 1970s and we have never failed to restore a site, many of which have won awards for their restoration. Our diversified business model working in mining, property and renewable energy gives us a strong financial position to ensure this remains the case, and if given permission to extract coal, we’re excited about the restoration opportunities at Highthorn.

If land was available on the north side of Cresswell would Banks be interested in property development?

At present, we have no plans for any further developments, mining, renewable or property, within the surrounding area to the Highthorn site. However, if this changes at any time in the future, as we did with Highthorn, we will let you know as soon as we establish an interest in the area.

Is Banks planning on any other opencast mining in the area (eg: around Ulgham village)?

We are always looking for future surface mining opportunities. At this time we have no plans to pursue any other projects within the area. If this changes at any time in the future we will let the community know if we have any proposals to bring forward new surface mining sites.

Why not look north of the current site?

There has been mining within this area for many years and as such much of the coal and other mineral resources have already been extracted. Much of the land north of the Highthorn site area has already been mined, and as such is not available for further mineral extraction. This is one of the many reasons that we believe Highthorn represents one of the best remaining mineral sites within the Northumberland coal field.

Clarify that Druridge Bay is not being dug up!

We have absolutely no plans, intentions or desire to dig up Druridge Bay beach. This beautiful regional landmark will continue to be accessible and protected throughout our development should it be approved and buffer zones between the site boundary and the coastline have been a key design feature since the start of the project and will continue to be so.

How will compensation be provided for the villages?

We intend to bring forward a range of social, environmental and economic benefits for our host communities to ensure that they too benefit from the mineral operations should they be consented. This is a central tenet to our Development with Care principles which state that those closest to our developments should benefit from the works.

Local residents should be compensated just like gas pipes in certain countries.

In line with Banks’ Development with Care approach, we intend to bring forward a range of social, environmental and economic benefits for our host communities to ensure that the local community shares in the benefits of our business in the area.

Why not wind farms?

We believe in a mixed energy policy as we believe that at present, no single energy source provides all the answers to the UKs energy needs. We see coal as a transitional energy resource which is required to light and heat our homes and buildings now and for the immediate future. However, we agree that it is imperative that the UK Government supports a mixed energy policy to assure the country of a secure energy generation for the long term. As of today, approximately 35-40% of the UK’s energy needs are met by coal fired power generation. But of this 35-40% only a small proportion is provided from coal mined in the UK. Whilst we have renewable energy developments elsewhere in the UK, we have no proposals for wind farms in Northumberland at present.

Why have Banks gone into renewable if coal is greatly needed?

We are very proud of our performance as a business, displaying growth in these difficult economic times. As a successful business we employ, train and look after over 400 people across the UK, pay taxes on all our developments and contribute a significant sum of money into the local supply chains to all our projects. We also share the benefits of our business with the communities that host our projects through the Banks Community Fund. Much of our success as a company is due to the fact that we have a diversified portfolio of projects which gives us good financial strength to manage energy and property market conditions. We believe in a mixed energy policy as we believe that at present, no single energy source provides all the answers to the UKs energy needs. We see coal as a transitional energy resource which is required to light and heat our homes and buildings now and for the immediate future. However, we agree that it is imperative that the UK Government supports a mixed energy policy to assure the country of a secure energy generation for the long term. Whilst we have renewable energy developments elsewhere in the UK, we have no proposals for wind farms in Northumberland at present.

Why not wait for carbon capture and storage?

With both mining and renewable energy projects, we are very interested in seeing how carbon capture and storage develops in the coming years. However, our county has energy needs which must be met now and in the immediate future, and the projects we are bringing forward now will support those needs. We look forward to seeing how new ideas will help support the country’s energy needs in the future.

Why not convert to renewable energy – UN already asked for a stop on fossil fuel?

Banks adopts a mixed energy policy, as we believe that no single energy source provides all the answers to the UKs energy needs; and although we pursue renewable opportunities in other areas, we have no proposals for wind farms in Northumberland. With regard to the UN, the IPCCs Synthesis Report stated that “fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would need to be phased out almost entirely by 2100”, not that fossil fuelled should be stopped. We see coal as a transitional energy source which will help the country meet its energy needs now and take us towards new ideas which will do the same in the future.

We need coal!

Agreed, as of today, approximately 35-40% of the UK’s energy needs are met by coal fired power generation; of this less than 30% is provided from coal mined in the UK. We believe strongly that this should not be the case, where the majority of coal is imported from other countries, leaving our supply of energy vulnerable to uncertain market conditions and politics. We wish to see our country benefit from the jobs and investment that locally produced coal will bring, for our employees and also for all the businesses and families that rely upon us for their energy, our business and their wages.

Northumberland does not need open cast mining – tourism will bring more to Northumberland

We agree that tourism is important, but we also believe that mining and tourism can co-exist alongside each other. Northumberlandia is a wonderful example, of which we are very proud, which shows this to be the case. There have now been well over 100,000 visitors each year to Northumberlandia since it was opened to the public in 2012 and our Shotton mine is immediately adjacent to the visitor attraction. We work with tourism bodies to deliver benefits and intend to deliver a restoration scheme which is right for Druridge Bay, its residents and its wildlife.

How far has the industry moved on in the last 20 years?

There have been huge changes within the mining industry over the last 20 years. Almost all of the deep mines have now closed and the number of surface mining companies has also reduced meaning that we now produce less coal in the UK than ever before. We believe strongly that this should not be the case, where the majority of coal is imported from other countries, leaving our supply of energy vulnerable to uncertain market conditions and politics. We wish to see our country benefit from the jobs and investment that locally produced coal will bring, both for our sites but also for all the businesses and families that rely upon us for their energy, our business and their wages. There have also been large changes in the environmental and safety policies which govern our industry meaning that we have never mined our coal in a more environmental or safe manner.

Will you mine for 24 hours a day?

The scoping report submitted to Northumberland County Council includes the potential that we may wish to work Highthorn 24 hours a day. If we decide to submit a planning application for 24hour mining, the environmental impact assessment will include noise modelling for mining operations and will include comparisons with the baseline noise levels. As Highthorn is still in the development phase with no planning application submitted, there are no final decisions on the plans or the timescales. The purpose of the Workshops is to work with you to help us shape the best possible planning application, and this includes views on the timescale for the project.

How will you assess light pollution, especially if you work 24 hours per day?

As part of the planning application, a lighting assessment will be included detailing how we will manage lights associated with the project. The scoping report submitted to Northumberland County Council includes the potential that we may wish to work Highthorn 24 hours a day. However, as Highthorn is still in the development phase with no planning application submitted, there are no final decisions on the plans or the timescales. The purpose of the Workshops is to work with you to help us shape the best possible planning application, and this includes views on the timescale for the project.

Will the archaeology be investigated/recorded prior to excavation works?

Yes. A full archaeological survey will be undertaken prior to starting excavation works on site, details of which will be included within the planning application when submitted.

No opencast, our beaches eroding fast enough already

We share the same passion for the Northumberland Coast and beach and are aware of the Northumberland coast erosion issues. We will ensure that our development does not adversely impact upon the coastline by increasing erosion concerns. Buffer zones between the site boundary and the coastline have been a key design feature since the start of the project and will continue to be so.

Don’t destroy the beauty of Druridge Bay

We agree Druridge Bay is a beautiful location to live, visit and enjoy. We are excited about the landscape, habitat, tourism enhancement opportunities the area invites.

Why not develop the area you already have permission for in Ferneybeds, or do you plan a double developments on either side of the 1068?

Discussions are continuing with the electrical and water providers regarding the relocation of their assets on the Ferneybeds site. While this relocation is taking longer than hoped for we remain wholly committed to the scheme and living up to the promises we have made to the local community. Due to the time the electricity and water providers are taking for their relocation, should we achieve planning permission for Highthorn, there is the potential that it may work alongside the Ferneybeds surface mine. We will ensure all parties are informed of progress as and when it is made.

1) What are your track records of achievements in public consultation? 2) What assurance will Banks give for upholding health consequences? 3) What are the employment statistics locally? 4) What assurance of safety records will you provide?

We enjoy working with the people in our host communities and are proud of the events we hold to keep them informed of our developments both before, during and after the projects. We would be happy to share details of our other projects and the public consultation events undertaken.

We are committed to achieving the highest environmental standards.

The Banks Group currently employs over 400 employees, of which over 200 people are based at our Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites near Cramlington in Northumberland. We will provide greater detail on the jobs which will be available at Highthorn in due course, and are committed to both the protection and continuation of our existing employees but also to providing new job opportunities where possible. We are required to keep detailed safety records for all our business activities and are very proud that within the Mining business we hold excellent safety records.

How much profit will Banks Mining make?

We’re very proud of our success as a company and our accounts are publicly available information. Our Development with Care approach ensures that our developments are progressed in an environmentally acceptable responsible way with sensitivity for local people and wildlife.

Are you aware of the sand extraction proposals on Druridge Bay?

We are aware of the ROMP (Review of Old Mineral Permission) application for sand extraction.

Do we need 150 trucks using the A1068?

The site may generate up to 150 loaded coal lorry movements each day. This is a maximum number and the average is expected to be lower than this on a regular day. The transport assessment which will be prepared as part of the planning application will assess the impact of the additional traffic on the road. Our proposed routes avoid use of any minor roads and accesses straight onto the national freight route of the A1068 which is designated for the transportation of heavy goods vehicles.

How many accidents on A1068, specifically Houndalee to Mile Road?

The transport assessment which will be submitted as part any planning application will include up to date accident data provided by Northumberland County Council. In the meantime, according to the Regional Road Safety Resource, since 2011 between Ellington roundabout to the Mile Road on the A1068 there have been four minor accidents and two serious accidents; and of these, only one from thirteen vehicles involved was a goods vehicle.

How will the coal be transported and will you consider using rail?

When looking at potential routes, we start by looking for the shortest suitable route to a rail loading facility that is feasible. Currently our Northumberland sites deliver the coal by road to Battleship Wharf at the Port of Blyth where the coal is loaded on to rail for distribution to our customers. At Highthorn, we are considering two locations for rail loading facilities Butterwell DP and Port of Blyth. Both routes may be applied for as part of the planning application.

 

Maintenance of roads with heavy traffic.

All loaded coal wagons leaving our sites are required to pass through a wheel wash facility to clean the wheels and undersides.  All our coal wagon trailers are fitted with an automatic sheeting system to cover the load and road friendly suspension. We will liaise with the local authority and Highways Agency regarding the need for a contribution to assist with maintenance of the roads which we will be using if the Highthorn site is operated. Any requirement to contribute will be included within the planning agreements before works commenced on site.

Is the A1086 the right road to exit on?

We firmly believe that exiting onto the A1068 is the correct option, particularly as this A road has been highlighted as a “Major Route” on the Northumberland Freight Map.

How is Banks going to protect our health from dust emissions?

Dust emissions will be effectively controlled through appropriate site design, site management and the use of mitigation measures such as water sprays and bowsers on hauls roads and the seeding of soil mounds. Studies undertaken on current sites have shown that dust and fine particulate matter have been successfully controlled and do not pose a risk to health within the surrounding communities or generate nuisance. Fine particulate matter has been shown to be influenced more by regional events than by emissions from surface mining operations. A statement issued by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP, 1999), based on a study of communities (NE England and Yorkshire) close to surface coal mining activities compared with those more distant, indicated that there was only a small increase (14%) in PM10 concentrations (mainly due to shale) and that the respiratory health of both groups of children were very similar.

A study specifically carried out for Banks Mining by Andrew King (a recognised independent consultant on dust issues involved in community studies) indicated that effective management and mitigation of dust on the Shotton site caused a worst case increase in PM10 of only 7%, with a more realistic figure of 4%. This report can be viewed here (link).

Background PM10 levels in the area are also low and any small addition from operations are predicted to produce overall concentrations in the surrounding communities that are significantly below the National Air Quality Objectives.

The Environmental Management Plan produced for the site covers these aspects and will be routinely updated in accordance with best practice and feedback from communities. This will ensure that air quality is maintained and the health of the surrounding communities will be adequately protected.

What pollution matters will arise from the mining?

If not mitigated and managed correctly, surface mining has the potential to generate noise, vibration, dust, light and water discharges. However, Banks Mining has shown on its previous and existing sites that these issues can be effectively controlled through appropriate site design, site management and the use of mitigation measures.

A detailed Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which is tailored specifically for each site sets out our responsibilities and incorporates compliance limits or appropriate environmental standards. A dedicated environmental team undertakes a comprehensive schedule of monitoring and auditing to ensure the site complies with regulatory limits and the requirements of the EMP. The site management teams have a wealth of experience in dealing with environmental aspects and work closely with the environmental team on a daily basis.

What visual impact will there be from the footpath between Ellington and the beach?

Information about the visual effects on public rights of way can be found in the Landscape and Visual Impact assessment between p106–154.

  • The right of way from the highpoint in Ellington is covered between p111–114, with a computer visualisation on p112 and p114.
  • The lower right of way to Blakemoor Farm  is covered between p107–111.
  • The footpath diversion can be found on pages 139 and 140, with a computer visualisation on P139.
  • The view from Widdrington at the bench, which was requested at the fourth workshop, is located on p73.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is it like living next to a Banks surface mine? https://youtu.be/8LdnOpy_Qbw How much traffic will Highthorn generate and what route will it take? We are still at an early stage of Highthorn’s design and details remain to be finalised; however at this stage the proposals indicate the site will generate a number of daily vehicle movements into and out of the site, the impact of these additional movements on the local roads will need to be assessed as part of the planning application. We always try to use major A roads for the transportation of materials and to keep daily wagon movements as low as possible to minimise the impact on the local transport infrastructure whilst still operating an efficient and modern surface mining operation. It is anticipated that the main access point for the Highthorn site will be taken from the A1068 and will involve up to 150 loaded HGV leaving the site in a day. How long will the site be operational? This depends on a number of factors such as how much coal is extracted from the site, the coal market, the machinery used to extract the coal and the operating hours approved to work the site. However, based on our preliminary estimates, the site will be operational for a period of around eight to ten years extracting coal and restoring the site, with a further five years of aftercare. How soon could work start at the site? Banks Mining has had a presence in Northumberland since the 1980s and we would like our commitment and investment within the county to continue for the foreseeable future. With this intention in mind as well as our other commitments within Northumberland, we see Highthorn as the natural follow-on from our mining activities at Shotton near Cramlington. On this basis, we have provisionally programmed the commencement of Highthorn during 2016. Is Banks still planning to operate the Ferneybeds Surface Mine to the south of Widdrington Station? We intend to start work at Ferneybeds as soon as we can but are currently in discussions with the electricity and water suppliers, Northern Power Grid and Northumbrian Water, to agree when they will remove their infrastructure from the site. We would like to start work at the site as soon as they have relocated their equipment. It may be the case that we operate Highthorn at the same time as Ferneybeds but this will be discussed with the local community during the public consultation and depends on when the electricity and water suppliers make a decision about Ferneybeds. Will Banks apply to extend the site at a later date? At this time we have no plans to extend the area shown on the location plan, and following initial discussions with the community, we have already reduced the site by 460 hectares since we first launched the site in July 2013. However, we have been mining coal in Northumberland for over 30 years and in order to sustain our business we are always investigating the potential of new sites across the county. Needless to say, whenever we have a new site to bring forward the community will be fully consulted and given an opportunity to shape the project themselves. Do we still need coal? The simple answer is yes. Approximately one third of the electricity generated in the UK is produced by coal fired power stations. This electricity is essential to power the nation’s homes, hospitals, workplaces and industry, without it the lights would simply go out. Whilst the country develops a range of alternative ways to generate power it is essential that the supply of indigenous coal is maintained. As a nation, we currently import in the region of 70% of the coal used to generate electricity in the UK. That is why the development of new surface coal mines is so important. By mining our own coal we:
  • Create UK job
  • Reduce the distance coal has to travel, thereby saving carbon in transportation
  • Ensure it is mined in a safe manner to the highest environmental standards
  • Support local businesses who provide support services to surface mines
  • Keep money within the UK
  • Increase the security of supply of power by reducing reliance on foreign countries for imported fuel
Will Banks be extracting any other materials from Highthorn? We hope there may be a number of other minerals that we may be able to extract at Highthorn as well as coal. Principal amongst those is fireclay which is used by the building industry in the making of ceramics and also sandstone. Sandstone from our site at Shotton was used at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London during 2012 in the construction of the entrance walkway into the Olympic Park. Will any new jobs be created by the Highthorn project? For Banks Mining, Highthorn could represent a similar sized investment as our current site at Shotton near Cramlington in Northumberland. Shotton currently employs approximately 150 staff on site with many more staff based out of our head office in Durham. We expect the same level of staffing to be required at Highthorn as we currently employ at Shotton. However, we are looking at ways to increase this number as we are keen to continue to invest in Northumberland and we strongly feel that this should include the training and development of new staff across a broad range of roles. We recognise how difficult the last few years have been economically and within the job market in the North East. Our development with care approach gives us a responsibility to continue our role as a major employer within Northumberland and look to expand this role in both numbers and skill development as much as possible. We take this responsibility very seriously and it is one we will rigorously protect and enforce. We will look to confirm the extent of the roles available on site in due course, but as part of the Highthorn project we wish to support local apprenticeship schemes and to continue our successful relationship with local colleges which saw us appoint four new apprentices during 2012. Highthorn represents the future of Banks Mining in Northumberland and as such there will be opportunities beyond those based on site. We will look to maximise the availability of these roles as much as possible and will look to employ people from the local area where feasible. What restoration opportunities are there at Highthorn? At Banks Mining we are always looking to push and improve ourselves and our restoration offers and plans. We are extremely proud of our role in the recently completed Northumberlandia, which was constructed based on our ‘restoration first’ principle – a first for the surface mining industry. Since opening in September 2012, Northumberlandia has received over 100,000 visitors and brought thousands of pounds to the local economy as a result. We have high hopes for Highthorn and are just as ambitious in our attitude to what could be delivered as part of its restoration if consented. Highthorn’s unique location offers truly exciting potential for restoration opportunities and if so desired could also be delivered early within the project lifecycle to maximise the return to the local community. We have lots of exciting and bold ideas that we are eager to share, but are also aware that you too may have ideas with true value and originality that we haven’t considered. You are the people who know this area best and instead of telling you what we think, we would love to work with you to develop the restoration ideas together to ensure that our offering meets the needs, aspirations and hopes of the community. Will Highthorn have any effect on Druridge Bay and the beach? We love Druridge Bay and its beautiful beach as much as you do and we respect the wild beauty of the Northumberland coastline which is reflected by the local designations which cover much of Druridge Bay. We wish to protect and in fact enhance this setting as much as possible whilst we are operating in the area, should it be approved. From the start of our design process, and as you can see on the location plan, we have set a boundary between our site and that coastal strip which holds so much beauty and wildlife. We will not carry out extraction or storage activities within these areas and are working hard with our ecology teams to ensure that the areas we do work are actually of low ecological value or are used as agricultural land only. We will not work adjacent to the beach and will endeavour through our development with care principles to operate the site in the most advanced and responsible manner available to ensure the protection of a well loved Northumberland landmark. Will Highthorn have any effect on the wildlife in the area? We have appointed a number of wildlife and ecology experts who have extensive knowledge of this area and its wildlife. This team of people are working hard to assess what wildlife is currently within the site and its surrounding areas. We are also aware of the number of local interest groups and wildlife enthusiasts who have valuable and wide ranging knowledge of this area and we will utilise these resources as much as possible in addition to the ecology team. In collaboration with the local authority’s wildlife experts and their advisors such as the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Environment Agency to name a few, we will look to protect and enhance the local wildlife and biodiversity. Where necessary we will look to provide mitigation either on or off site to ensure that we act responsibly and do not cause excessive harm to any species or habitats which cannot be replaced at a later date. Through the use of our biodiversity action plan, which works in conjunction with national and local legislation, regulation and good practice, we will work and survey the site year on year during its operation and beyond to ensure we remain on top of all ecologically sensitive issues and earn our name as a responsible developer who develops with care in all things. What measures will Banks Mining take to control noise and dust? http://youtu.be/KmQ2u2QFlJM How can my community group apply to the Banks Community Fund? The Banks Community Fund supports local environmental and community improvement projects in the areas surrounding The Banks Group’s operations. Grants will normally be given out for up to £5,000, although higher amounts are sometimes considered. Successful applicants will be required to fundraise 10% of the total grant themselves. If you would like more information about the fund then please contact James Eaglesham on 0191 378 6342 or james@bankscommunityfund.org.uk Why have you not provided an accurate plan and timescale for the project? Further details our draft design were provided at Workshop 2 and our current proposals can be found on the Highthorn Project Details webpage. However, as Highthorn is still in the development phase with no planning application submitted, there are no final decisions on the plans or the timescales. The purpose of the Workshops is to work with the community to help us shape the best possible planning application for everyone. If it does go ahead, please explain clearly and concisely to the community what exactly will be happening and what it will look like. Perhaps smaller workshops at a parish level to encourage maximum engagement. Thank you for your suggestion regarding smaller workshops, however the consensus opinion from the greater group was that people would like to stay together in one group. We try to accommodate this desire in Workshop 2 but will continually reassess the situation in an attempt to ensure that we hold meaningful and worthwhile discussions with everyone. We will ensure that through a range of consultation events attendance at parish council meetings, further workshops and exhibitions, that you will all have ample opportunity to see the proposals and have them fully outlined prior to the submission of any planning application. Why this area? Banks Mining is interested in pursuing potential new surface mines that have a commercially viable coal resource that can be recovered with regard to environmental sensitivities in the area. Highthorn is a long standing potential site identified within the high quality Northumberland coalfield. Following our site investigations, we believe this location contains high quality Northumberland coal that can be used to provide electricity for homes, businesses and schools across the UK. What is the honest actual time scale going to be? We promise to always be open and honest with you about our proposals. We will only make promises in relation to timescales when we are sure we can meet those promises. We have been looking very carefully at the plant which we will use to excavate the minerals at Highthorn should we receive permission to do so as well as the number of staff, shift patterns and hours of operation for the site. We need to be sure that our proposals are environmentally acceptable and we can meet all the planning conditions. The more plant and people employed on the site helps us complete the project at a quicker pace. We are confident that completion of the project within the 8 to 10 year period that we have indicated is possible. How old will we be when we can enjoy our coastline again? Everyone can continue to enjoy the coastline throughout our proposed mining operations. Please be assured that we have absolutely no plans, intentions or desire to mine the beach and our current, draft excavation area is over ½ km from the beach. Will the site be extended during its lifetime? We have no plans to extend the area shown on the location plan, and following initial discussions with the community, we have already reduced the site by 460 hectares since we brought our plans to the community in July 2013. We have been mining coal in Northumberland for over 30 years and in order to sustain our business we are always investigating the potential of new sites across the county. Whenever we have a new site to bring forward, the community will be fully consulted and given an opportunity to help us shape the project. Given significant drop in the price of coal, what assurance does the community have that Banks will not acquire permission and then wait until the price increases - thereby extending the time period of the site? Any planning permission which is granted by a local planning authority includes a timeframe by which the site must commence. As our existing sites within Northumberland are due for completion in the near future, we are very keen to progress the Highthorn site to ensure continuity of employment for our existing workforce, to deliver new employment opportunities for local people and to provide continuity of high quality coal to our existing customers. This is the first application being proposed. What guarantee to residents have that this is also the only and last application? We are always looking for future surface mining opportunities. As a responsible developer we plan and design our projects carefully ensuring that they are both environmentally acceptable but also appropriate to the market conditions. At this time we have no plans to pursue any other projects within the area or submit further applications. However, if this changes at any time in the future, as we did with Highthorn, we will let the community know as soon as we establish an interest in the area. Why is the area to the north of the C116 required by the scheme? Our early draft site designs were investigating the potential of a larger scheme. This scheme would have required enough land for us to store the overburden material removed from the ground whilst the coal beneath was being extracted. We have now reduced the size of the scheme that we are considering which means that we need less land for the storage of that material. We too agree that crossing the C116 is not ideal, and have been actively looking for alternative land for the storage of material for the smaller site, and we are pleased to say that we have been able to achieve that desire allowing us to remove the land north of C116 from the proposals for any mining activity. However, we are still exploring ideas for using this land for restoration activities for things such as landscape improvements and habitat creation. Does the reduction in the coal price bring a risk of site being uneconomical? As a responsible business, we undertake a rigorous assessment before submitting any planning application, which includes a thorough assessment of the quality of coal, the coal market and the price of coal. We are confident that Highthorn represents one of the best remaining coal resources within the high quality Northumberland coalfield. How is the current coal price effecting Bank\'s profitability? As a responsible business, we undertake a rigorous assessment before submitting any planning application, which includes a thorough assessment of the quality of coal, the coal market and the price of coal. We are confident that Highthorn represents one of the best remaining coal resources within the high quality Northumberland coalfield. We are very proud of our performance as a business, displaying growth in these difficult economic times and our diversified portfolio of projects gives us financial strength to manage changes in the market. What protection will be in place with regards to re-instating the land if Banks were to go bankrupt? We will be required to supply a restoration bond to satisfy the local planning authority and the landowners. A restoration bond is a financial guarantee that restoration works will happen if an operator of a development gets into financial difficulties or ceases trading. However, Banks Mining has completed 110 surface mining developments since the 1970s and we have never failed to restore a site, many of which have won awards for their restoration. Our diversified business model working in mining, property and renewable energy gives us a strong financial position to ensure this remains the case, and if given permission to extract coal, we’re excited about the restoration opportunities at Highthorn. Will a restoration bond be a condition of planning? We will be required to supply a restoration bond, both by the local planning authority and the landowners. A restoration bond is a financial guarantee that restoration works will happen if an operator of a development gets into financial difficulties or ceases trading. However, Banks Mining have completed over 100 surface mining developments since the 1970s and we have never failed to restore a site, many of which have won awards for their restoration. Our diversified business model working in mining, property and renewable energy gives us a strong financial position to ensure this remains the case, and if given permission to extract coal, we’re excited about the restoration opportunities at Highthorn. If land was available on the north side of Cresswell would Banks be interested in property development? At present, we have no plans for any further developments, mining, renewable or property, within the surrounding area to the Highthorn site. However, if this changes at any time in the future, as we did with Highthorn, we will let you know as soon as we establish an interest in the area. Is Banks planning on any other opencast mining in the area (eg: around Ulgham village)? We are always looking for future surface mining opportunities. At this time we have no plans to pursue any other projects within the area. If this changes at any time in the future we will let the community know if we have any proposals to bring forward new surface mining sites. Why not look north of the current site? There has been mining within this area for many years and as such much of the coal and other mineral resources have already been extracted. Much of the land north of the Highthorn site area has already been mined, and as such is not available for further mineral extraction. This is one of the many reasons that we believe Highthorn represents one of the best remaining mineral sites within the Northumberland coal field. Clarify that Druridge Bay is not being dug up! We have absolutely no plans, intentions or desire to dig up Druridge Bay beach. This beautiful regional landmark will continue to be accessible and protected throughout our development should it be approved and buffer zones between the site boundary and the coastline have been a key design feature since the start of the project and will continue to be so. How will compensation be provided for the villages? We intend to bring forward a range of social, environmental and economic benefits for our host communities to ensure that they too benefit from the mineral operations should they be consented. This is a central tenet to our Development with Care principles which state that those closest to our developments should benefit from the works. Local residents should be compensated just like gas pipes in certain countries. In line with Banks’ Development with Care approach, we intend to bring forward a range of social, environmental and economic benefits for our host communities to ensure that the local community shares in the benefits of our business in the area. Why not wind farms? We believe in a mixed energy policy as we believe that at present, no single energy source provides all the answers to the UKs energy needs. We see coal as a transitional energy resource which is required to light and heat our homes and buildings now and for the immediate future. However, we agree that it is imperative that the UK Government supports a mixed energy policy to assure the country of a secure energy generation for the long term. As of today, approximately 35-40% of the UK’s energy needs are met by coal fired power generation. But of this 35-40% only a small proportion is provided from coal mined in the UK. Whilst we have renewable energy developments elsewhere in the UK, we have no proposals for wind farms in Northumberland at present. Why have Banks gone into renewable if coal is greatly needed? We are very proud of our performance as a business, displaying growth in these difficult economic times. As a successful business we employ, train and look after over 400 people across the UK, pay taxes on all our developments and contribute a significant sum of money into the local supply chains to all our projects. We also share the benefits of our business with the communities that host our projects through the Banks Community Fund. Much of our success as a company is due to the fact that we have a diversified portfolio of projects which gives us good financial strength to manage energy and property market conditions. We believe in a mixed energy policy as we believe that at present, no single energy source provides all the answers to the UKs energy needs. We see coal as a transitional energy resource which is required to light and heat our homes and buildings now and for the immediate future. However, we agree that it is imperative that the UK Government supports a mixed energy policy to assure the country of a secure energy generation for the long term. Whilst we have renewable energy developments elsewhere in the UK, we have no proposals for wind farms in Northumberland at present. Why not wait for carbon capture and storage? With both mining and renewable energy projects, we are very interested in seeing how carbon capture and storage develops in the coming years. However, our county has energy needs which must be met now and in the immediate future, and the projects we are bringing forward now will support those needs. We look forward to seeing how new ideas will help support the country’s energy needs in the future. Why not convert to renewable energy - UN already asked for a stop on fossil fuel? Banks adopts a mixed energy policy, as we believe that no single energy source provides all the answers to the UKs energy needs; and although we pursue renewable opportunities in other areas, we have no proposals for wind farms in Northumberland. With regard to the UN, the IPCCs Synthesis Report stated that “fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would need to be phased out almost entirely by 2100”, not that fossil fuelled should be stopped. We see coal as a transitional energy source which will help the country meet its energy needs now and take us towards new ideas which will do the same in the future. We need coal! Agreed, as of today, approximately 35-40% of the UK’s energy needs are met by coal fired power generation; of this less than 30% is provided from coal mined in the UK. We believe strongly that this should not be the case, where the majority of coal is imported from other countries, leaving our supply of energy vulnerable to uncertain market conditions and politics. We wish to see our country benefit from the jobs and investment that locally produced coal will bring, for our employees and also for all the businesses and families that rely upon us for their energy, our business and their wages. Northumberland does not need open cast mining - tourism will bring more to Northumberland We agree that tourism is important, but we also believe that mining and tourism can co-exist alongside each other. Northumberlandia is a wonderful example, of which we are very proud, which shows this to be the case. There have now been well over 100,000 visitors each year to Northumberlandia since it was opened to the public in 2012 and our Shotton mine is immediately adjacent to the visitor attraction. We work with tourism bodies to deliver benefits and intend to deliver a restoration scheme which is right for Druridge Bay, its residents and its wildlife. How far has the industry moved on in the last 20 years? There have been huge changes within the mining industry over the last 20 years. Almost all of the deep mines have now closed and the number of surface mining companies has also reduced meaning that we now produce less coal in the UK than ever before. We believe strongly that this should not be the case, where the majority of coal is imported from other countries, leaving our supply of energy vulnerable to uncertain market conditions and politics. We wish to see our country benefit from the jobs and investment that locally produced coal will bring, both for our sites but also for all the businesses and families that rely upon us for their energy, our business and their wages. There have also been large changes in the environmental and safety policies which govern our industry meaning that we have never mined our coal in a more environmental or safe manner. Will you mine for 24 hours a day? The scoping report submitted to Northumberland County Council includes the potential that we may wish to work Highthorn 24 hours a day. If we decide to submit a planning application for 24hour mining, the environmental impact assessment will include noise modelling for mining operations and will include comparisons with the baseline noise levels. As Highthorn is still in the development phase with no planning application submitted, there are no final decisions on the plans or the timescales. The purpose of the Workshops is to work with you to help us shape the best possible planning application, and this includes views on the timescale for the project. How will you assess light pollution, especially if you work 24 hours per day? As part of the planning application, a lighting assessment will be included detailing how we will manage lights associated with the project. The scoping report submitted to Northumberland County Council includes the potential that we may wish to work Highthorn 24 hours a day. However, as Highthorn is still in the development phase with no planning application submitted, there are no final decisions on the plans or the timescales. The purpose of the Workshops is to work with you to help us shape the best possible planning application, and this includes views on the timescale for the project. Will the archaeology be investigated/recorded prior to excavation works? Yes. A full archaeological survey will be undertaken prior to starting excavation works on site, details of which will be included within the planning application when submitted. No opencast, our beaches eroding fast enough already We share the same passion for the Northumberland Coast and beach and are aware of the Northumberland coast erosion issues. We will ensure that our development does not adversely impact upon the coastline by increasing erosion concerns. Buffer zones between the site boundary and the coastline have been a key design feature since the start of the project and will continue to be so. Don\'t destroy the beauty of Druridge Bay We agree Druridge Bay is a beautiful location to live, visit and enjoy. We are excited about the landscape, habitat, tourism enhancement opportunities the area invites. Why not develop the area you already have permission for in Ferneybeds, or do you plan a double developments on either side of the 1068? Discussions are continuing with the electrical and water providers regarding the relocation of their assets on the Ferneybeds site. While this relocation is taking longer than hoped for we remain wholly committed to the scheme and living up to the promises we have made to the local community. Due to the time the electricity and water providers are taking for their relocation, should we achieve planning permission for Highthorn, there is the potential that it may work alongside the Ferneybeds surface mine. We will ensure all parties are informed of progress as and when it is made. 1) What are your track records of achievements in public consultation? 2) What assurance will Banks give for upholding health consequences? 3) What are the employment statistics locally? 4) What assurance of safety records will you provide? We enjoy working with the people in our host communities and are proud of the events we hold to keep them informed of our developments both before, during and after the projects. We would be happy to share details of our other projects and the public consultation events undertaken. We are committed to achieving the highest environmental standards. The Banks Group currently employs over 400 employees, of which over 200 people are based at our Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites near Cramlington in Northumberland. We will provide greater detail on the jobs which will be available at Highthorn in due course, and are committed to both the protection and continuation of our existing employees but also to providing new job opportunities where possible. We are required to keep detailed safety records for all our business activities and are very proud that within the Mining business we hold excellent safety records. How much profit will Banks Mining make? We’re very proud of our success as a company and our accounts are publicly available information. Our Development with Care approach ensures that our developments are progressed in an environmentally acceptable responsible way with sensitivity for local people and wildlife. Are you aware of the sand extraction proposals on Druridge Bay? We are aware of the ROMP (Review of Old Mineral Permission) application for sand extraction. Do we need 150 trucks using the A1068? The site may generate up to 150 loaded coal lorry movements each day. This is a maximum number and the average is expected to be lower than this on a regular day. The transport assessment which will be prepared as part of the planning application will assess the impact of the additional traffic on the road. Our proposed routes avoid use of any minor roads and accesses straight onto the national freight route of the A1068 which is designated for the transportation of heavy goods vehicles. How many accidents on A1068, specifically Houndalee to Mile Road? The transport assessment which will be submitted as part any planning application will include up to date accident data provided by Northumberland County Council. In the meantime, according to the Regional Road Safety Resource, since 2011 between Ellington roundabout to the Mile Road on the A1068 there have been four minor accidents and two serious accidents; and of these, only one from thirteen vehicles involved was a goods vehicle. How will the coal be transported and will you consider using rail? When looking at potential routes, we start by looking for the shortest suitable route to a rail loading facility that is feasible. Currently our Northumberland sites deliver the coal by road to Battleship Wharf at the Port of Blyth where the coal is loaded on to rail for distribution to our customers. At Highthorn, we are considering two locations for rail loading facilities Butterwell DP and Port of Blyth. Both routes may be applied for as part of the planning application.   Maintenance of roads with heavy traffic. All loaded coal wagons leaving our sites are required to pass through a wheel wash facility to clean the wheels and undersides.  All our coal wagon trailers are fitted with an automatic sheeting system to cover the load and road friendly suspension. We will liaise with the local authority and Highways Agency regarding the need for a contribution to assist with maintenance of the roads which we will be using if the Highthorn site is operated. Any requirement to contribute will be included within the planning agreements before works commenced on site. Is the A1086 the right road to exit on? We firmly believe that exiting onto the A1068 is the correct option, particularly as this A road has been highlighted as a “Major Route” on the Northumberland Freight Map. How is Banks going to protect our health from dust emissions? Dust emissions will be effectively controlled through appropriate site design, site management and the use of mitigation measures such as water sprays and bowsers on hauls roads and the seeding of soil mounds. Studies undertaken on current sites have shown that dust and fine particulate matter have been successfully controlled and do not pose a risk to health within the surrounding communities or generate nuisance. Fine particulate matter has been shown to be influenced more by regional events than by emissions from surface mining operations. A statement issued by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP, 1999), based on a study of communities (NE England and Yorkshire) close to surface coal mining activities compared with those more distant, indicated that there was only a small increase (14%) in PM10 concentrations (mainly due to shale) and that the respiratory health of both groups of children were very similar. A study specifically carried out for Banks Mining by Andrew King (a recognised independent consultant on dust issues involved in community studies) indicated that effective management and mitigation of dust on the Shotton site caused a worst case increase in PM10 of only 7%, with a more realistic figure of 4%. This report can be viewed here (link). Background PM10 levels in the area are also low and any small addition from operations are predicted to produce overall concentrations in the surrounding communities that are significantly below the National Air Quality Objectives. The Environmental Management Plan produced for the site covers these aspects and will be routinely updated in accordance with best practice and feedback from communities. This will ensure that air quality is maintained and the health of the surrounding communities will be adequately protected. What pollution matters will arise from the mining? If not mitigated and managed correctly, surface mining has the potential to generate noise, vibration, dust, light and water discharges. However, Banks Mining has shown on its previous and existing sites that these issues can be effectively controlled through appropriate site design, site management and the use of mitigation measures. A detailed Environmental Management Plan (EMP), which is tailored specifically for each site sets out our responsibilities and incorporates compliance limits or appropriate environmental standards. A dedicated environmental team undertakes a comprehensive schedule of monitoring and auditing to ensure the site complies with regulatory limits and the requirements of the EMP. The site management teams have a wealth of experience in dealing with environmental aspects and work closely with the environmental team on a daily basis. What visual impact will there be from the footpath between Ellington and the beach? Information about the visual effects on public rights of way can be found in the Landscape and Visual Impact assessment between p106–154.
  • The right of way from the highpoint in Ellington is covered between p111–114, with a computer visualisation on p112 and p114.
  • The lower right of way to Blakemoor Farm  is covered between p107–111.
  • The footpath diversion can be found on pages 139 and 140, with a computer visualisation on P139.
  • The view from Widdrington at the bench, which was requested at the fourth workshop, is located on p73.
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