Ferneybeds surface mine receives unanimous approval from Northumberland County Council planning committee

April 12, 2013 | Brenkley News

 

Northumberland County Council’s planning committee has resolved to grant planning permission to north east developer Banks Mining’s proposed Ferneybeds surface mine.

The scheme, which will be located to the south of the village of Widdrington Station, received unanimous approval from the committee, and will see around 752,000 tonnes of coal extracted from a 96 hectare site over a three-year period. 

It was recommended for approval by the county council’s planning officers and was also supported by the local Widdrington Station & Stobswood Parish Council.

The Ferneybeds scheme will directly support around 40 local jobs, as well as bringing substantial new revenues into the local economy and supporting many other jobs in supply chain businesses.

The detail of the planning application was finalised with the help of around 20 local residents and community representatives who took part in a series of community design workshops which were set up by Banks in order to give local people a strong voice in the scheme’s development, with the outcomes of the discussions were used by the Banks design team to help refine and improve their proposals in line with panel members’ comments.

A new community benefits fund worth around £75,000 forms part of the Ferneybeds proposal, and will enable Banks to continue to deliver a range of community and environmental improvements in partnership with local people, with a new nature corridor also being included in the restoration of the site to help enhance the habitats for local wildlife.

Banks Mining already employs more than 200 people, most of whom are employed at the 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.

The company recently instigated a new apprenticeship scheme in south east Northumberland, which has seen four local young people join Banks’ plant maintenance team at the existing Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines, as well as receiving a comprehensive two-year training programme that will be delivered by Northumberland College.

Katie Perkin, communications manager at The Banks Group, says: “Having had the backing of Widdrington Station & Stobswood Parish Council for our planning application, and having also received a recommendation for approval from Northumberland County Council’s planning officers, we’re very pleased that the planning committee has also expressed its support for the Ferneybeds surface mine.

“This project will enable Banks to continue its long-term investment in an area in which we have worked for more than three decades.  Our local operations are already directly employing around 200 people, as well as supporting many other jobs in the local supply chain, and the substantial contributions we’ve made to many local towns and villages over the years have greatly improved the community facilities that they enjoy.

“Our planning application has been carefully designed in close consultation with the local community, and we are wholly committed to living up to the promises we have made about the way in which it will be operated.

“Coal will remain a central part of the UK’s energy mix for the foreseeable future, and we know there will be great demand for the high quality materials that we extract from the Ferneybeds site.  We will now be looking to finalise the details of our operations before commencing preparatory work on the site.”

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