THREE women allegedly involved in a protest against open cast mining in Durham have appeared in court charged with aggravated trespass.

The Pont Valley Protection Camp, which is to be turned into an open cast mining operation by Durham-based Banks Group, was set up by protesters on the site and was forcibly removed in a stand-off on April 20.

Yesterday Sarah Alice Johnson, 23, of Thornhill Terrace, Sunderland, Luka Lecoutteux, 22, of Spaniards Road, London, and Jessica Sankey, 23, of First Street, Bradley Bungalows, Leadgate, all pleaded not guilty to the offence when they appeared at South Durham Magistrates Court.

Miss Johnson also pleaded not guilty to the additional offence of common assault.

They will appear again at South Durham Magistrates Court on Thursday, May 17 at 2pm.