Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Opencast mine site gets go ahead

Plans to build an opencast mine next to a village in County Durham have been given the green light.

The county council has approved excavation of 1.2 million tonnes of coal near Tow Law, despite more than 100 objections from residents.

UK Coal submitted the application, which will create 86 jobs during the five-year operation period.

The first coal will be extracted in July, with the land being restored after excavation has ceased.

Up to 500,000 tonnes of fire clay will also be excavated from the 45 hectare site, Park Wall North.

There will be at least 70 heavy goods vehicles coming in and out of the mine on a daily basis.

This scheme will benefit the local economy and the national economy, create more jobs and help the steel industry
Stuart Oliver, UK Coal

Councillor John Jackson, chairman of Brancepeth Parish Council, had campaigned against the plans.

He said: "We were horrified when the planning committee decided to pass the application.

"We live just five miles from the site, and the residents of Tow Law are right next to it.

"We are worried that there is going to be so much traffic, noise, and disruption, many of the buildings in neighbouring villages are listed with no foundations, it could cause a lot of damage.

"If there is a problem then we will be seeking compensation."

Stuart Oliver, UK Coal spokesman, said: "This scheme will benefit the local economy and the national economy, more jobs will be created and the coking coal we will extract will help the steel industry.

"More than 500,000 will be ploughed back into the community, with two new gas mains to remote villages, we have received environmental awards in the past for our restoration work."

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