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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Nude sculpture mine plan attacked
A plan for a giant sculpture of a naked woman in Northumberland has been attacked because it is the proposed centrepiece for an opencast mine.

The Banks Group, which is based in Durham, wants to start mining on the Blagdon Estate north of Cramlington.

Artist Charles Jencks has been hired by the group to created the artwork which, if planning permission is approved, will be sculpted into the landscape.

But some residents are worried about the impact of mining on the area.

Northumberlandia would be the world's largest human form sculpted into the landscape, according to the Banks Group, and would be part of a 25-hectare park.

Cramlington North Councillor Wayne Daly said: "This is an application for opencast mining, not an application for a woman with 150ft breasts in south east Northumberland.

'Huge impact'

"The scheme would mean 150 lorries a day, fully laden, travelling on the main road between Blyth and Cramlington. We're talking about a huge impact on the environment.

"Only 2,500 people have been consulted out of nearly 38,000 people in Cramlington."

The mine would be used for the extraction of five million tonnes of coal during an eight to nine year period to commence late 2006, according to the submitted planning application.

Mark Dowdall from the Banks Group said: "I totally refute that there has been a lack of consultation. We published a report in June 2004, and prior to that we had numerous discussions with local residents and industry.

Power station

"The road we're proposing to use is a dual carriageway designed for the industrial site which runs alongside it, and we believe that's well suited for provision of traffic routing."

The group already has an opencast site near Morpeth, which is due to close in 2006.

Mr Dowdall said: "90% of the coal we produce from our current site is destined for a local power station at Lynemouth.

"We want to continue this relationship and that's why we've come forward with a proposal for a coal site now."

The planning application is currently being processed by Northumberland County Council.

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