CAMPAIGNERS say they will give their all to try to convince councillors to throw out plans to mine coal from open countryside on the outskirts of Durham next week.

Hargreaves Surface Mining's proposal to opencast up to 514,000 tonnes of coal and 83,000 tonnes of fireclay from farmland known as Field House, near Pittington, is due to go before Durham County Council's county planning committee and planning officers are recommending approval.

But Denise Harland, chairwoman of the Stop The Opencast Between Pittington and West Rainton campaign, said: "We'e really disappointed but we will try our very best.

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"We are hoping we will be able to put doubts, concerns and questions in the minds of the committee, in the hope they will go against the recommendation.

"We're certainly going to try our best."

Hargreaves' plans, which first emerged 18 months ago, would see mining for 26 months, possibly starting as early as this summer.

The coal would be taken from 25 hectares of the 56-hectare site, at a rate of around 5,200 tonnes per week meaning there would be an average of 74 vehicle movements on or off site per day.

Hargreaves say the project would create 42 full-time and up to 18 seasonal jobs, support local businesses, leave an improved landscape and bring a £102,800 community fund.

However, residents say the opencast would ruin the countryside, generate unacceptable levels of traffic, noise and dirt and damage people's health.

Those against the scheme include Pittington and West Rainton and Leamside parish councils, Hetton Town Council, local county councillor Stephen Guy, Hetton School, Ramside Estates, which owns nearby Ramside Hall, and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

Around 800 people signed a petition and the council has received 209 objection letters.

However, there have been no objections from the Environment Agency, Natural England or Durham Wildlife Trust and some supportive letters from businesses.

In her report to the committee, principal planning officer Claire Teasdale writes: "The proposed benefits of the scheme would outweigh the short term environmental damage and loss of amenity that would be caused."

The committee meets at County Hall, Durham, on Tuesday, June 17, at 2pm.