A PETITION against plans to opencast mine coal has been handed in to planners.
More than 800 people signed the petition calling on Durham County Council to reject proposals to surface mine 500,000 tonnes of coal from Field House Farm, West Rainton.
Residents fear noise and disruption from hundreds of lorries, and are concerned about dust blowing over their properties and nearby schools.
Ward councillor Carol Woods said: “There is no doubt this is not wanted by the majority of local people.
“Opencasting elsewhere in the north has taken place well away from towns and villages.
“Opencasting is not part of the council’s mineral strategy, which means no land is set aside for it.”
She added: “We are hopeful the council can be persuaded to reject an application at West Rainton if one is made.” Plans are being prepared by Hargreaves Surface Mining of Esh Winning.
The company is yet to submit an application, but says it is confident it can meet the concerns of residents.
Mining on the site will be for a maximum of three years, and the area will be restored afterwards.
Hargreaves expects to submit a plan to the council within the next two or three months.
The council will then carry out a public consultation.
Councillors on the strategic planning committee will make the final decision at a meeting which will be open to the public.
No date for the meeting has been set by Durham County Council, but it is likely to be later this year or early 2014.