VILLAGERS are celebrating victory in their fight to prevent a proposed opencast coal mine on countryside on the outskirts of Durham.

Members of Durham County Council’s planning committee today (Tuesday June 17) overturned the recommendation of the authority’s officers and rejected the proposed scheme by 12 votes to one.

Hargreaves Surface Mining applied to remove 514,000 tonnes of coal and 83,000 tonnes of fireclay from more than 60 acres of the 140-acre Field House site, on farmland near Pittington, to the east of Durham city, over a 26-month period.

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The scheme would have provided 42 full-time jobs and seasonal employment for a further 18 workers, but would have required 74 vehicle movements on or off-site per day.

Villagers from Pittington, Sherburn and nearby Rainton Gate objected to the proposal and about 30 protestors from the Stop the Opencast pressure group lobbied members of the planning committee attending today’s meeting at County Hall, Durham.

Committee member Paul Taylor described the planned opencast scheme as: “Wanton vandalism of a wonderful green area.”

Hargreaves is yet to reveal if it plans to appeal the decision or amend the proposal with a revised application.