CAMPAIGNERS and residents are calling on the Government not to let a controversial opencast coal mining project go ahead.

In a letter to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, people from County Durham and the Coal Action Network campaign have urged him to revoke planning permission for a surface coal mine in the area.

International commitments to tackle climate change under the Paris Agreement, and the Government’s pledge to phase out polluting coal for electricity, mean that the fossil fuel has “no long-term future”, they argue.

Loading article content

As a result, ministers should not put local people’s health and the environment at risk by allowing new open cast coal mines to go ahead, they said.

Banks Group has permission to mine at the Bradley site, near Dipton and Leadgate, which the campaigners want the Communities Secretary to revoke using powers under the Town and Country Planning Act.

Tom Davison, who lives 150 metres from the site, said: “We have moved onto other forms of cleaner energy for the good of our global climate, so why is it worth harming the local wildlife and local economy for one last money grab.”

The call by campaigners to halt the project comes as coal makes up an increasingly small share of electricity generation in the UK, ahead of the Government’s promised deadline to phase out coal power by October 2025.

Anne Harris, of the Coal Action Network, said: “The 2015 Paris Agreement and the sharp decline in coal use this year indicate there is no long-term future for coal.

“If it fails to intervene in these projects, the Government will allow local people’s health and ecology to be needlessly and permanently damaged, and risk its reputation as an international leader in ‘powering past coal’.”

Lewis Stokes, from The Banks Group, said: “We are continuing to talk to people living locally about the progress being made with the Bradley project, and will be holding the first meeting of the liaison committee, through which information on all aspects of it will be shared between ourselves and the local community, later this month.”