EXTINCTION Rebellion North East Youth are staging a demonstration outside Durham County Hall today.

About 40 protesters waving banners and chanting made their way to the entrance of County Hall where they were stopped by security staff who told them they could not come in but could protest outside.

But, protesters managed to push past and made their way to the steps of County Hall. 

A separate group of Extinction Rebellion demonstrators in the meantime had managed to slip a yellow yacht in through a side entrance.

Led by a Samba band the protestors marched to the council headquarters to “demand the council rejects the reckless plans for expansion of Bradley opencast coal mine near Dipton”.

Banks Mining has lodged plans to extend the coal mine with Durham County Council and a decision is expected to be made in the spring.

A Exinction Rebellion spokesperson said: “Shy bairns rise up is the title of the event, as reflects our proud North-Eastern heritage, our past struggles as a community and the importance of protecting our planet.”

Stuart Timmiss, head of development and housing at Durham County Council, said: “We are aware of the concerns being raised over this planning application and have previously met with representatives from the Extinction Rebellion campaign group to discuss their views in greater detail.

Following the peaceful protest today, I would like to reassure members of the group that the points they have raised are being carefully considered as part of the planning process, along with the other representations we have received.”

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary said: “Officers from Durham Constabulary attended a protest at County Hall today, however there were no issues requiring police intervention.”

The demonstration comes as activists prepare for thee days of action at the mine next week.

Mark Dowdall at The Banks Group says: “While the need remains for coal in UK for industries such as steel, cement and even heritage railways, where is the environmental sense in hauling 90 percent of the coal we need over thousands of miles from places like Russia, which scandalously already supplies almost 50 percent of the coal used in the UK, when we can mine and deliver it to British businesses for significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions while also sustaining much-needed jobs and investment?

“The consequence of XR’s demands would be to further increase the amount of coal that British industry is forced to import, which will unnecessarily add to the global volume of greenhouse gas emissions generated. In other words, XR would directly exacerbate the problem they are looking to solve.”