Row over plans to open new opencast coal mine

Discussing opencast mining at a public exhibition by Hargreaves Surfance Mining at East Rainton are ( left to right) Steve MacQuarrie, planning director of the company, local residents, Kenneth Brown, his wife Emma, Jean Taylor and her husband Derek.
Discussing opencast mining at a public exhibition by Hargreaves Surfance Mining at East Rainton are ( left to right) Steve MacQuarrie, planning director of the company, local residents, Kenneth Brown, his wife Emma, Jean Taylor and her husband Derek.
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OBJECTORS visited a public exhibition about plans to opencast mine coal.

Hargreaves Surface Mining hopes to extract 500,000 tonnes of high-quality coal from land at Field House Farm, West Rainton.

More traffic and the effect on the environment are among fears of residents over the site, near Robin Lane and the A690.

“We simply don’t want this,” said Derek Taylor, who attended the exhibition at St Cuthbert’s Parish Hall, East Rainton, with his wife Jean.

“We live in Low Pittington and my garden more or less backs on to the site.

“It looks like we are going to have a 10-metre high heap to look at for the time they are on site.

“We are told it will only be for three years, but what happens if they find more coal?”

Kenneth and Emma Brown, of Low Pittington, oppose the scheme. “There are many reasons not to want it, noise, disruption and so on,” said Mr Brown, 81.

“One of the things which is worrying us is health problems caused by dust.

“There are a couple of schools in one direction and houses in another.”

Hargreaves, which expects to submit a planning application within three months, say concerns will be taken on board.

“That is the point of having these exhibitions,” said a spokesman. “We had about 80 people at the first one in Pittington, and about 60 people at West Rainton.

“There are concerns, but we have also had a small number of people in favour.

“One gentleman wrote to say it is a well thought-out plan, and three years of mining is better than a housing estate which you are stuck with forever.”