Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Opencast Application Is the Wrong Thing, in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Opencast Application Is the Wrong Thing, in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Article excerpt

Byline: dave Anderson

I STARTED work as a coal miner in the spring of 1969.I was following a long line of miners in my family, but unlike them, I did it by choice. For the next 20 years, I enjoyed the camaraderie of the greatest workers in the world and fought to defend the coal industry from ideological attacks from the Tories.

Unfortunately, we were not successful in our fight and now the country faces the bleak prospect of relying on some of the most unstable regimes in the world for our energy supplies.

Given this background, it may surprise some people that I am at the forefront of a campaign to prevent the opencast mining of land in my constituency. Let me state clearly I am not intrinsically opposed to opencasting and I am definitely not anti-coal.

However, we must be sure that any exploitation of coal reserves is balanced against the negative impact it can have on a local area, the environment and the economy. Above all else, we must consider fully the views and the impact on local people. I firmly believe the application to opencast at Skons Park, Whickham, in my constituency is the wrong thing, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. It is the wrong thing because it will have a detrimental impact on the people who live in the surrounding area. It will produce heavy traffic on already overburdened roads and it will lead to disruption of people's everyday lives.

It is in the wrong place because it is very close to one of our glorious historical treasures, the Gibside Hall and estate. This is a place that is undergoing a transformation and currently has record numbers of both visitors and employees. The company that has applied to opencast the land has so far failed to give the National Trust evidence-based guarantees and assurances that their land and historical property will be safe from flooding.

Finally, it is the wrong time because the North-East is now re-defining its natural places as a key to developing its economy for the future. …

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