Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villagers Soured by Mining 'Sweetener' Opencast Firm Gives Holiday Park Pledge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villagers Soured by Mining 'Sweetener' Opencast Firm Gives Holiday Park Pledge

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair Craig

OPENCAST developers bidding to mine land on the Northumberland-Cumbria border have pledged to set up a holiday park and equestrian centre after completing the dig.

But local villagers have dismissed the plan as "a sweetener" and vowed to continue the fight against opencasting.

For the second time in two years, HM Project Developments has applied to opencast a 24-hectare site on the west of Halton Lea Gate.

The company has come back with new plans, including an ecological survey demanded by Northumberland County Council. Applicant Paul Murphy is also predicting the creation of up to 60 local jobs in the three-and-a-half-year project.

"We do it for the benefit of the local community," Mr Murphy said as the open casting plans went on show in the village yesterday. "The spin-off is that all the local contracts and suppliers will be sourced locally. "If we then get permission for the equestrian centre and holiday park, that will mean even more local jobs for a longer period."

However, villagers instantly rejected the equestrian holiday park carrot and remain united against the plans.

Wendy Green, chair of Hartleyburn Parish Council, said: "Who's going to come and ride horses? Where are you going to get many people to come here and do that? It's a sweetener.

"The fact is that if this application goes through, there would be unacceptable noise and nuisance.

"Because of the westerly wind, you can hear the ice cream van miles away, so what sort of noise would we hear from an opencast site?" Campaigner Jeremy Ancketill said: "Any jobs that would be created would be counterbalanced by the jobs lost in the tourist industry.

"We've B&B, fishing and shooting facilities, but who's going to want to come here if there is opencasting going on?" Villagers also claim property values have been hit by the repeated opencast applications. …

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