PLANS to create a surface mine expected to yield hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coal are being recommended for approval.
Hargreaves Surface Mining has applied to Durham County Council to extract 514,000 tonnes of coal and up to 83,000 tonnes of fireclay from land at Field House Farm at West Rainton, close to Rainton Gate.
The work and restoration of the site would take three years, with a new entrance to be created from Robin Lane and soil cleared from the area to be mined stored around the periphery of the plot, creating screens along the A690 from Pittington Lane and homes at Pittington Station and Greengables.
The plans have generated a host of objections, with a campaign group set up to co-ordinate opposition, and parish councils in Pittington, West Rainton and Hetton also voicing concerns.
Esh Winning-based Hargreaves says the mine would create 42 full-time job and 18 seasonal posts.
Durham County Council planners have recommended the scheme for approval, stating that they consider it would cause no significant environmental damage.
They have drawn up a list of conditions to be observed, however.
The county planning committee will discuss the proposals on Tuesday at 2pm at County Hall in Durham.