Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Is the Battle of the Bay Over?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Is the Battle of the Bay Over?

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Muncaster Reporter @MichaelMjourno

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a surface coal mine close to a Northumberland beauty spot have been given the go-ahead.

Northumberland County Council's planning committee voted unanimously in favour of the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday.

Developer Banks Mining wants to extract three million tonnes of coal, sandstone and fireclay from a site at Highthorn, near Druridge Bay.

The company said it would invest around PS120m in the North East economy through the project and create at least 100 jobs.

But more than 11,000 people signed a petition objecting against the plans, claiming it would cause irreparable damage to the land and wildlife.

The committee 'minded to approve' the scheme at the meeting but what happens next? Could the application be called in for review? The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has the power to call in planning applications.

If they decide to do so, it will be considered at a public inquiry led by a planning inspector who will then make a recommendation.

The Secretary of State will consider the inspector's report and decide whether or not to approve the application.

Why are planning applications called in? There is no legal obligation for the Secretary of State to use the call-in powers.

They would normally only do this if the application conflicts with national policy or is nationally significant.

But very few planning applications are called in each year, with only 21 cases being reviewed between 2010 and 2013.

How long does the process take? The Secretary of State has 21 days from the date the plans are 'minded to approve' to decide whether or not to call in the application.

But what often happens is that the application is put on hold so that they have more time to assess it to decide whether to call it in. …

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