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Petition against Pittington opencast plan
A CAMPAIGN to thwart plans to dig a new opencast coal mine in countryside outside Durham is gathering strength.
Hargreaves Surface Mining is drawing up proposals to mine at Field House, between Low Pittington and West Rainton.
But Sherburn county councillors Carol Woods and Maureen Wood have launched a petition against the scheme and, separately, Pittington Parish Council chairman Bill Kellett has called in support from the national Loose Anti Opencast Network (Laon).
The moves follow two public exhibitions staged by Hargreaves over the last two weekends, in Pittington then West Rainton.
The firm wants to extract 500,000 tonnes of high-quality coal and 83,000 tonnes of fireclay over three years. No planning application has yet been submitted.
But villagers are concerned about noise, traffic and dirt.
Coun Woods said: “Many people have told me they do not think this proposal should go ahead. It will create noise, dust and much more traffic, particularly on the A690.
“We have started a petition to allow local people to express their feelings against the proposal.”
Coun Wood added: “The land at Field House is far too close to houses and a mine would seriously inconvenience residents. I will do everything I can to fight this proposal.
“It will be some time before the developer submits any firm plan and we hope that being able to demonstrate the strength of local feeling against it may make them change their minds.”
Petition forms are being delivered to houses in nearby villages.
Meanwhile, Coun Kellett is due to meet a Laon official on Monday (March 11).
Speaking about the recent Pittington exhibition, he said: “Everybody who went said they didn’t want any opencast down there. Not one person was in favour.”
A Hargreaves spokesman said such consultation events were very important in helping to form proposals before any possible planning applications.
“The contribution and interest of local people is absolutely vital as we go forward,” he added.
Two years ago, the site attracted interest from ATH Resources and UK Coal but more than 1,000 residents signed a protest petition and no application followed.
Efforts are underway to stage further public exhibitions in Moorsley and East Rainton in coming weeks.