A PUBLIC meeting to discuss a proposed opencast coal mine is being held on Thursday.

It has been organised by Whittonstall Action Group in response to plans to remove 2.2m tonnes of coal from the Hoodsclose site, just over the County Durham border in Northumberland.

The meeting is being held in St John's Church Hall at Snods Edge between 6pm-9pm ahead of next month’s planning meeting.

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The planning application from Coalfield Resources, formerly UK Coal, is expected to be determined by Northumberland County Council on Monday February 5.

A site visit has been carried out by members of the energy company, councillors and members of the planning committee.

Action group spokesman Val Fairbairn Barnes said: “As a decision is imminent, this site visit marked an important stage in the planning process.

“The next step in the process will be the public meeting.”

The company wants to extract what it describes as "good quality coking coal suitable for the UK steel industry".

Some would be for use in power stations and the development would be followed by site restoration, including an increase of about 130 acres of native woodland and nearly 20 miles of hedgerow planting.

A dedicated route has been put forward to transport the extracted coal via the C265 to the A68 at Kiln Pit Hill, with additional plans to perform junction improvements.

Previous proposals to work the same site were rejected in 1978.

Members of the community in Whittonstall and surrounding villages, including Ebchester and Hamsterley Colliery, on the County Durham side of the boundary, are united in opposition to the latest scheme.