THE firm behind efforts to turn green belt land on the outskirts of Newcastle into a coal mine will not fight to revive the rejected plans.

Proposals from the Banks Group’s to dig a new opencast mine at Dewley Hill, near Throckley, were thrown out by city planning chiefs last December after it was deemed that the environmental harm it would cause outweighed any economic boost.

The decision was met with joy from green campaigners and local activists who had pleaded with Newcastle City Council to protect the popular green space.

Banks Group bosses have now confirmed they will not lodge any appeal against what they claimed was an “outrageous” council verdict, drawing the saga to an end. 

A rejection of the Dewley Hill scheme was a third major blow to the company’s mining operations in the North-East last year, having also failed in bids to extend the use of its Bradley mine, in County Durham, and set up an opencast site near Druridge Bay, in Northumberland.

Gavin Styles, the Durham-based developer’s executive director, said Banks’ mining arm was “being redirected to explore other opportunities”.

He said: “We believe that the continuing demand for industrial minerals in the UK should be met in the safest, most efficient, environmentally responsible and sustainable way possible by extracting those minerals resources locally.

“Newcastle City Council identified Dewley Hill as the only minerals site in the city last year, and the important and ongoing need of Throckley Brickworks for fireclay would have been met from this site less than a mile away.

“Despite these facts, and the significant jobs and investment that the project would have brought to the region, we have decided on this occasion not to appeal the decision.

“Our mining team is being redirected to explore other opportunities which will draw on the Group’s skills and experience in new areas of industrial support and mineral extraction, and we have some exciting prospects in place which we expect to see come to fruition in the coming months.

“We remain grateful to the 1,450 individuals, community groups and organisations that submitted letters in support of the Dewley Hill scheme.”

After a three-hour hearing in December, the city council’s planning committee voted unanimously to reject the coal mine plans, which attracted more than 5,000 objections.

The mining project would have seen 800,000 tonnes of coal and 400,000 tonnes of fireclay, for the neighbouring Throckley brickworks, extracted from the green belt on the western edge of the city over three and a half years – though the council estimated that it would take more than 18 years for the land to be restored.

Following the plan's rejection, Friends of the Earth said it “will hopefully bring down the curtain on opencast coal mining in England”.

City council leader Nick Forbes, who has committed Newcastle to reaching net zero carbon sessions by 2030, also said that “the time for mining in our city is over”.