GAVIN STYLES, managing director of Banks Mining (Echo, Feb 3), accuses so-called carbon “extremists” of “hypocrisy”.

He then, however, goes on to make extravagant claims for “the wildlife and ecological benefits that opencast mining brings”.

For sheer hypocritical effrontery those claims take some beating. Why?

Well, let us just ask ourselves what is the biggest single factor in promoting and protecting wildlife – the soil (on which everything depends).

The soil does not, and because of its very nature, cannot, survive opencast mining (or “strip mining” as the Americans call it).

Opencasters claim that they conserve the soil but, believe you me, they don’t and probably couldn’t (even if they were as environmentally benign and conscientious as Mr Styles makes out).

What opencasting does produce, in both the long and short term, is the characteristic “green desert” of west central Durham – as desolate and as devoid of wild creatures as of wild flowers.

Tony Kelly, Crook.