CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after plans to opencast mine coal were rejected by councillors.
More than 1,000 people from West Rainton and Pittington signed a petition against a plan by Hargreaves Surface Mining Ltd to opencast more than 500,000 tonnes of coal from land at Field House Farm, off the A690 and Robin Lane.
Action group chairwoman Denise Harland said: “We are delighted the councillors have put local business and local people before big business, which wanted to destroy our lives and our local economy. They claimed there would be community and environmental benefits, but we couldn’t see any.”
A meeting of Durham County Council’s planning committee at County Hall was told Hargreaves would reinstate the site as they mined.
The council’s planning officers recommended approval of the plan.
Councillors said they were concerned about the impact a large hole in the ground would have on the reputation of Durham as a tourism destination,
Coun Alan Shield said: “Like it or not, importing coal is much cheaper than mining it. Mining is our heritage, but it is not our future.”
Councillors voted to reject the opencast plan by 12 votes to one.
A spokesman for Hargreaves said: “We are disappointed with the decision of the committee, which was made despite the strong recommendation for approval by the planning officers.”
The spokesman added Hargreaves would consider an appeal after the company receives the written decision from the council.