Updated plans for proposed Ferneybeds surface mine going on show at public exhibition

April 23, 2012 | Brenkley News

Updated plans for a proposed surface mine in south east Northumberland are set to go on public display at two exhibitions this week.

Regional firm Banks Mining is putting forward plans for the proposed Ferneybeds site, which is located to the south of the village of Widdrington Station, around eight miles north west of Ashington.

After undertaking an extensive public engagement programme across the area, Banks has now updated its proposed scheme design, and included a number of ideas provided by local people during a series of community workshops that the company hosted.

The locations of the access road and compound at the proposed site have been moved, and transportation plans have been changed to accommodate local views and to ensure that coal lorries do not use the Mile Road which runs into Widdrington Station.

The duration of the scheme has been reduced from five to three years as a result of changes to planned plant that Banks propose to use on site and further geotechnical investigation, and improvements have been made to the proposed screening of the site from the village.

The updated proposals will now be put on display at ATAC Community Hall on Mile Road in Widdrington Station between 3pm and 7pm on Tuesday 24 April, and between the same times on Wednesday 25 April at Linton Village Hall in Linton Colliery.Banks’ representatives will be on hand to answer any queries visitors have about any part of the scheme, and to gather further feedback from them which will be assessed before a planning application is submitted.

Banks is looking to extract around 750,000 tonnes of coal from the site, which offers easy access to the nearby A1068. If Banks’ planning application is approved, the Ferneybeds scheme would support around 40 jobs, as well as many others in local supply chain businesses, and would also bring new substantial revenues into the local economy.

The scheme would also generate a benefits package of up to £75,000, and exhibition visitors will be able to suggest how they think these funds might best be used to enable Banks to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people.

Banks Mining already employs more than 200 people, most of whom are employed at the nearby Shotton surface mine in south east Northumberland and the Brenkley Lane surface mine in Newcastle, and has maintained an operational presence in this area for more than three decades.

Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, says: “The active involvement of local people has been central to the development of these new proposals, and we hope that the changes we’ve made in association with local people’s ideas will be welcomed by the wider community.

“Banks already employs a large number of people in and around the area, with local businesses in the supply chain also benefiting substantially from our operations, and it is our ambition to increase the amount of local jobs that we support both directly and indirectly through the substantial investment we would make in the Ferneybeds scheme.

“Coal will remain a crucial part of the ‘energy mix’ that the UK needs to meet its energy generation requirements for the foreseeable future, and we know that there would be great demand for the high quality coal that we would extract from the Ferneybeds site, so we hope as many people as possible will come along to these exhibitions to find out more about how we plan to take this project forward.”

Anyone who is unable to attend the exhibitions, but who wants more information on the updated proposals should contact the project team on 0191 378 6100 or via ferneybeds@banksgroup.co.uk

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