Burnopfield's Community Partnership

Plans to Opencast in the Marley Hill Area.


People who are campaigning mining plans at Marley Hill

A CONTROVERSIAL bid to mine more than a million tonnes of opencast coal in the North East has been  handed to planners.

The proposed site where UK Coal is submitting the application is on the Gateshead/County Durham border at Marley Hill, near Sunniside.

The same site was the subject of a plan to mine 10 million tonnes of coal in 1990, though the application was eventually rejected.

Campaigners are trying to stop plans by Halls Construction to opencast mine 225,000 tonnes of coal close to the Marley Hill site at Birklands, near Kibblesworth.

Michele Finch, who is campaigning against the Birklands proposal, and who runs Toffs – The Old Fashioned Football Shirt Company – with husband Alan, said: “After decades of mining, this area between Beamish and Sunniside has recovered and includes some beautiful countryside.

These opencast companies want to despoil it again. “If they get a foothold then this area will be known only for opencasting.”

UK Coal says the scheme will stabilise up to two hectares of contaminants from the site, a legacy of the former colliery and coking works, while also mining just over one million tonnes of high-grade coal.

A company spokeswoman said: “The surface mining scheme will recover the coal via modern plant and equipment, working to strict environmental guidelines to have as small an impact on the community as possible, while enabling restoration of the site to
provide additional woodland, improved agricultural fields, improved habitats for wildlife and greater access.”

Simon Taylor, director of UK Coal Surface Mining, added: “There are a number of historical contaminants on this land and there is simply no way a site such as this could be cleaned up and decontaminated using money from the public purse.

“We believe we have found a way of safely and sensitively recovering this excellent quality coal, while restoring the land back to its former glory.”

Read More http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/communities/sunniside/2012/12/19/marley-hill-opencast-coal-mine-bid-goes-to-planners-72703-32457777/#ixzz2K6cTyB4

Read More http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/communities/sunniside/2012/12/19/marley-hill-opencast-coal-mine-bid-goes-to-planners-72703-32457777/#ixzz2K6cJ5fq

Read More http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/communities/sunniside/2012/12/19/marley-hill-opencast-coal-mine-bid-goes-to-planners-72703-32457777/#ixzz2K6bzbkDe

Opencast Update December 2012

This issue is still not resolved. Despite campaigners winning a decisive victory at Durham County's planning committee by having UK Coal's application to opencast the "Bradley" site ( Between Leadgate and Dipton) unanimously turned down, and despite UK Coal's appeal again being refused at public inquiry in November 2011, UK Coal have appealed against the planning inspector's conclusion. This means that their appeal will be considered in the High Court, Probably in Mid 2013.
The Pont Valley Network and their supporters would like to say a huge thank you to all groups and individuals who apposed this applivation, by writing letters, signing petition and attending the inquiry and other public meetings. It is only by active public opposition on this scale that we have come this far.




PR 2012-5                                                                    25/7/12


The area around Marley Hill, which already has an opencast mine application for the Birklands site, is threatened with the new Marley Hill Colliery Reclamation Site, could be facing a new application soon, just down the A 692  between Sunnyside and Burnopfield, off Schoolhouse Lane.

Recent research, undertaken for the Loose Anti Opencast Network (LAON), has revealed that some communities across England are
facing the prospect of an opencast mine application in their locality within five years. The communities of Sunnyside, Burnopfield and Marley Hill,  could be facing such an opencast  mine application.

UK Coal plc is in the process of selling of 8 tracts of land across the country. The particulars attached to the sale documentation for each site include the following details:

“An opportunity to acquire an agricultural property portfolio with strategic coal reserves, sold with the benefit of an option agreement for UK Coal Surface Mining to work the coal. All the sites inthis portfolio are included within UK Coals five year planning program for surface mining.”

One of the sites for sale involves land off Schoolhouse Lane between Marley Hill and Burnopfield (1). UK Coal plc, a Company which is millions of pounds in debt and in danger of failing, is trying to raise money by encouraging investors into a
joint venture whereby UK Coal gain some money up front to offset its debt mountain. The sites were put up for sale in February (2) and so far two sites
have been sold. The Hague Lane site is still, it seems, under offer.

The Loose Anti Opencast Network consists of individuals and groups who work together to oppose actual and proposed opencast mine applications. We also try to alert local people to the prospect of them having to face an opencast mine application and help them to prepare for that eventuality. If any individual or
group wants further information about LAON then contact    


1)   For details about the site particulars  off Hague Lane see http://www.findaproperty.com/investment/property-10856569

2)  Farmers Weekly ‘Farmland includes potential coal income’ (1/2/12) @ http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/01/02/2012/131241/Farmland-includes-potential-coal-income.htm

3)   Nottingham Post “Multi-million pound deal to sell hundreds of acres of farmland” (18/7/12)

For more information on this press release please contact Steve Leary, Co-ordinator , LAON  at Infoatlaon@yahoo .com or phone 05601 767891




PR 2012-2                                                                                  2/7/12

Issues relating to proposed opencast sites were
locally newsworthy items in the last month. In addition to the news items
relating to various proposed and potential sites listed below, there was news in other areas that could have a potential effect on the future of opencast mining in the UK. Firstly there were two developments relating to Health Issues
and Opencast Mining. The World Health Organisation declared that Diesel Emissions were Carcinogenic, themselves causing forms of lung cancer. This is not good news for those living near, or have the prospect of living near, opencast sites where usually all the heavy machinery used to mine and transport the coal is diesel driven.

The health news gets even worse, for a second
reason, with a new health study of surface coal miners in the USA finding, for
the first time, that ‘Black Lung’ disease or Pneumoconiosis is associated with surface mining as varying degrees of
incidence of this disease were observed in miners working at different sites.Dust from silica was mainly to blame and silica dust has long been a controversial issue when it comes to opencast mining in this country.

 LAON both suggest that all those currently opposing opencast applications ask the Environmental Health Officer who is
advising the Planning Authority considering the Application to review this new evidence to see if any planning application for a new opencast mine can now be considered ‘safe’ for the local population. LAON will also be passing this
information on to a group of MP’s who we know are opposed to opencast mining to see if a review of health guidance on opencast mine applications and guidance on current mitigation procedures can be initiated in light of this new
evidence. References for both of these news items of are given below.

The other major
news stories which have a bearing on the future of opencast mining in the UK are to do with Carbon Capture and Storage. (CCS). If it was proved that it was commercially viable to operate such a system and apply it to coal fired power stations, then new coal fired power stations would be built and the demand for coal would increase, perhaps dramatically. We may then face a flood of applications for new opencast coal sites, given the prohibitive costs, estimated in a Daily Mail news article in 2009, of £1bn to open a new deep mine.

This is why
recent news on this front is interesting. One the one hand, Ayrshire Power has withdrawn its proposal to build a new coal fired power station at Hunterston in Scotland, which was to be fitted with unproven CCS technology to remove some of the CO2. Meanwhile, in England, progress is being made with the ‘Don Valley Power Project’, an ambitious, expensive (£5bn) plan to build a CCS power
plant near  Hatfield Colliery in Yorkshire  and then pipe the CO2 gas 200 miles to depleted oil fields in the North Sea to both store the gas and
recover more oil. Big companies, including BOC and Samsung have now taken a share in the scheme, which is now starting public consultations on the route of the proposed pipeline. It’s called the ‘Don Valley Power Project’, since eventually the hope is that power stations at other sites, such as Drax, Ferrybridge and Tata Steel will be connected to the pipeline. However, this scheme has already bankrupted one company, Powerfuel and it is dependent on gaining public funding. However, if at all successful, it raises the risk of increasing
the demand for coal and for more opencast coal site applications for that 500m tonnes of coal that is estimated to be less than 500m away from where thousands of people live. LAON will be watching developments. References for both these
news items are below.


The way to read each entry is as follows:

Site Name, Location, Planning Authority,

Position in the Planning System (either Scoping Inquiry, Application Submitted, Application Approved) and the name of the Applicant / Operator.

BIRKLANDS, (nr .Marley Hill, Gateshead),
(Gateshead) (Application) (Hall Construction Services)

‘Opencast, the threat returns’ (local action
group) (no date)
Not a news story, but an on line petition that
can be signed to show opposition to open casting at this proposed 275,000 tonne
site. See: http://www.savebirklands.org.uk/

BRADLEY (nr. Consett) (Co Durham) (Judicial

Review) (UK Coal)
No news on if and when the Judicial Review
will begin. The Planning Inspectorate has yet to decide on whether it is to
contest the Judicial Review

Huddersfield) (Kirklees Council) (Application) (George Harrison Ltd)
‘Skelmanthorpe Action Group urges Kirklees
Council to refuse Clayton West mining plan’, (Huddersfield Examiner, 8/6/12)
A local campaign group joins those objecting
to this Application as it would not bring any benefit to the local area and
result in massive disruption. See http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/local-west-yorkshire-news/2012/06/08/skelmanthorpe-action-group-urges-kirklees-council-to-refuse-clayton-west-mining-plan-86081-31138064/

‘Plans for opencast mine given short shrift by
council’ (Yorkshire Post, 14/6/12)
Wakefield Council confirms its opposition to
the proposed opencast mine at the Dearne Lea site. Kirklees Council’s decision
now expected towards the end of the year.

To contact the Skelmansthorpe Action Group

see: http://www.skelmanthorpeaction.org.uk/contact.html
For more details on the Application and the
possibility to make a comment up to: http://www2.kirklees.gov.uk/business/planning/application_search/detail.aspx?id=2012/91131

miles NW of Ashington) (NorthumberlandCounty Council)  (Scoping Inquiry) (Banks Group)
‘Widdrington villagers split over new opencast application’ (The Journal 20/6/12) Ironically, given the title of the article, it
only relays the opinion of one local person who supports the Application. See: http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2012/06/20/widdrington-villagers-split-over-new-opencast-application-61634-31219984
Chairman gives blessing to opencast site
proposals’ (News Post Leader, 27/6/12)
Another story, almost a repeat, of the local
person, Brenda Fordy-Scott, Chairman Widdrington Residents Association giving support to Bank’s

GEORGE FARM (nr. Smalley, Derbyshire)
(Derbyshire County Council) (Application) (LEM Resources)
The Smalley Action Group has now set up a
petition where you can register your objection to the Application. See http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Smalley-opencast/

HALTON LEA GATE (c 5 mile SW of Haltwhistle)

(Northumberland County Council) (Public Inquiry) (HM Developments)
HM Developments plan to mine 140,000 tonnes of
coal. Awaiting the result of a Public Inquiry on this application, held in May 2012

HILLTOP PROJECT (nr. Clay Cross, Derbyshire)
(Derbyshire County Council) ( Scoping Inquiry) (Provectus Remediation)
Provectus Remediation have indicated that they
are intending to submit a plan to mine 130,000 tonnes of coal from a 30 hectare
site over a 30 month period.
The local MP, Natasha Engel has now announced
her opposition to any proposed opencast mining application for the Hilltop
Project site. Hilltop Action Group: Support from Local MP and Councillors, June 2012 . See  http://hilltopproject.com/

To keep in touch with the protest campaign, go

to http://hilltopproject.com/


Whittonstall (Northumberland County Council) (Application) (UK Coal)

UK Coal hopes to extract 2.2m tonnes of coal
and 500,000 tonnes of fireclay    over aseven year period. The Scoping Inquiry state began soon after August 2009 with an application following in 2010. This is still a live application. ‘Protesters step up Whittonstall opencast mine fight’(TheJournal, 28/6/12)
A decision on this Application takes a step closer
now that UK Coal plc has submitted the additional information NCC asked for.
The Whittonstall Action Group is to hold a public meeting in the village churchon 7/7/12 to explain why they still oppose the Application. See

You can find further information and make a
make a comment here: http://publicaccess.northumberland.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do;jsessionid=2BC579DC2A201F65967E36E99DD92B3A?action=firstPage
You can also contact the Whittonstall Action
Group here: http://www.whittonstallactiongroup.co.uk/who.php

(Walsall Metropolitan Council / Black Country Local Enterprise
Partnership)  (Expression of Interest)(Parkhill Estates).No new information is available about this

possible site

SHORTWOOD FARM  (Trowell, nr Nottigham, Nottinghamshire)
(Application)  (UK Coal)
UK Coal have applied to mine 1,275,000 tonnes
of coal over a 5yr period on a Greenfield site. ‘Rallying call on mine plan’, (Nottingham
Post, 20/6/12) Article reminds local people that they only
have a few days in which to lodge an objection to UK Coal’s Shortwood Farm
proposal. So far 114 objections have been lodged with Nottinghamshire County Council, with 6 letters in favour of the Application.
To send a letter opposing this application, go to: http://www.trowell.org.uk/shortwood-open-cast-mining-application-letter-writing-campaign/out
To find out more about the Application see:
  http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/planningsearch/plandisp.aspx?AppNo=ES/2569 MARLEY HILL COLLIERY RECLAIMATION  (Sunnyside, Gateshead (Co Durham also affected), (Scoping Enquiry) (UK Coal)
No recent news about this proposed
development  to mine approximately 1m tonnes of coal


(Northumberland County Council) (Application) (Hargreaves Services) No new information is available about this

possible site.‘Hargreaves looks to open surface mines in the
North East’ (Hargreaves Web Site, 15/2/12)
Hargreaves has submitted plans for its first
English Opencast site. It plans to extract 130,000 tonnes of coal. See


For more information on this application and
the possibility of making a comment go to


‘Diesel exhausts cause cancer’, (Coal Action
Scotland / Indymedia Scotland, 13/6/12
Action Scotland, who have long campaigned for more research into the health issues related to opencast mining have published this press release that links the recent WHO classification of Diesel Engine Exhaust as Carcinogenic with health
issues related to opencast mining. See http://www.indymediascotland.org/node/27613?device=mobile

For a link to the publication of the WHO
monographs and other information on this seehttp://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/2012/mono105-info.php

from the (USA Government) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention : Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): June 15, 2012 / 61(23);431-434

“Pneumoconiosis and Advanced Occupational Lung Disease Among  Surface Coal Miners” — 16 States, 2010–2011”
See  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6123a2.htm?s_cid=mm6123a2_x


‘Plans for carbon-capture power station abandoned’ (Business Green / Guardian, 27/6/12) @http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2187353/plans-carbon-capture-power-station-abandoned?WT.rss_f=HomeWT.rss_a=Plans+for+carbon-capture+power+station+abandoned

POWER PROJECT ‘Gas firms stake in power station’, (Sheffield Star, 14/6/12) @http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/business/gas-firm-s-stake-in-power-station-1-4642619

‘Crucial milestone’ in bid to build vast CO2
Pipe’, (Yorkshire Post, 19/6/12) @ http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/at-a-glance/main-section/crucial-milestone-in-bid-to-build-vast-co2-pipe-1-4657365

The Loose Anti-Opencast Network (LAON) has
been in existence since 2009. It  functions as a medium through to oppose open cast mine applications, through which any person / group can communicate ideas, information, requests for information and possibly concerted actions if we find a target. In addition feel free to invite any other person /group who oppose opencast mining applications, to join the network so that it
grows. At present LAON links individuals and groups in N Ireland, Scotland,Wales, Northumberland, Co Durham, Leeds, Kirklees Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire,Leicestershire and Walsall.

You can read our 1st press release on
the Coal Action Network Site here:  http://coalaction.org.uk/?p=721
If you have news about developments at any of
the above sites, or you have news of any new sites not included in this list
then please contact Steve Leary at infoatlaon@yahoo.com,which is also LAON’s contact  address.

STOP PRESS - News on Opencast.

I have just received the message below. I will let you have further information as and when it becomes available.

Hello Ivan

I do not know if you are aware of this --  we have only just found out. UK Coal have lodged a Judicial Review against the decision of the Planning Inspectorate. We are not sure how this will operate, but it is certainly not good news for our valley.
We will let you know if we hear any more, and if you do could you keep us informed.


Latest News on Dipton Opencast

I have a copy of the Inspectors Appeal Decision in PDF format. If you would like a copy  please email me on ijewell@globalnet.co.uk

Ivan Jewell Secretary Burnopfield Community Partnership

County Durham opencast mining bid finally rejected
                       by Neil McKay, The Journal     Feb 24 2012   
FAMILIES who spent years fighting opencast mining plans are celebrating
after a planning inspector threw out an appeal.
Locals enlisted the help of county councillors and MP Pat Glass in
their bid to see off the plans by UK Coal to mine 530,000 tonnes of coal
in the Pont Valley between Consett and Dipton, County Durham.
Last night county councillor Watts Stelling, an impassioned opponent
of the plan, said he was absolutely delighted with the victory.
“We have been fighting plans to opencast on this site since 2001 and the
inspector told UK Coal to get lost,” he added.
Karen Adamson, chairwoman of the Pont Valley Network, which fought
the proposal, said: “This is fantastic news. It has been a long fight
which must have cost UK Coal a lot of money.
“Hopefully they will have learned their lesson and won’t come back.”
Pat Glass, Labour MP for North West Durham, said preventing the
opencast was the one issue which she was determined to pursue after she
was elected.
She said: “I am not against opencast mining per se but Pont Valley
 is one of this community’s biggest assets. It is as vital to the curriculum of the local primary school as a maths book.

When I became MP this was one campaign I felt I must support, the
strength of feeling against an opencast in the Pont Valley was so
UK Coal’s first application was rejected by planners in 1986. The company
appealed and this was again rejected by a government inspector two years
In 2001 a second application was rejected.
A public inquiry was ordered after UK Coal appealed against a
decision by Durham County Council’s planning committee to unanimously
reject its application in February last year. The inquiry took place in
November and the news that the inspector had refused UK Coal’s
application was revealed yesterday.
UK Coal said: “We are naturally disappointed by the outcome of the inquiry.
“Despite ongoing investment in renewable energy technologies by many
companies the fact remains that coal has a central role to play in
meeting the UK’s energy generation needs for the foreseeable future.
“Throughout this winter, coal generated nearly 50% of the UK’s
electricity, keeping the lights burning during sub-zero temperatures,
fuel shortages and gas price hikes.”

Dipton Opencast


Say NO to opencasting in the Pont Valley

I/We the undersigned call on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to reject the application by UK Coal to opencast coal from the 'Bradley' site in the Pont Valley for the following reasons

Tourist and business opportunities will be lost

Permanent effect on wildlife

Destruction of landscape


Undermines the restoration of our area

Irreparable loss of historical features

We lose the ability to enjoy walking and cycling in the area

The signal it gives to our children - "profit is more important than the welfare of local people".


Individual objections are very important. They are counted. If we do not object, open cast mining will happen here.

Please sign the online Opencast Petition! Click Here 

If this was approved opencast mining would not stop at Dipton. Burnopfield and the nearby villages would all be under threat. 

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