Dewley Hill coal mine application
October 17, 2016

Controversial mining company Banks wants to opencast mine for coal at Dewley Hill on the outskirts of Newcastle. The site lies just north of the A69, the nearest concentration of houses is Throckley a village in the 10% of most deprived communities in the country. The next nearest collection of houses are at Darras Hall, an affluent area.

Banks operate two other opencast coal mines in the North East – Shotton and Brenkley Lane. This mine, were it to go ahead would extract 800,000 tonnes.

The Dewley Hill application is currently at the scoping stage, this is a stage prior to the submission of a planning application where the applicant tries to create an application which will be approved.

Want to help? Sign the petition to Newcastle City Council asking them to refuse the application.

Banks Mining company has another application pending, Highthorn. This application is near to Druridge Bay, on the Northumberland coastline. Highthorn was approved by Northumberland County Council in summer 2016. The local group, Save Drurdige, has managed to get this decision ‘Called In’ by the Communities Secretary. This means that a government inspector will review the application. This is the first time that an application where a coal mine was approved has then been ‘Called In’. The application will be reviewed including consideration of climate change impacts and the proposed coal phase-out.

The impact of the Highthorn application being Called In on the Dewley Hill application is unclear. Given that the Dewley Hill application is still at the early stages, it is seems unlikely that it will be progressed further until the result of the Call In is known, as Highthorn being refused could result in Dewley Hill being withdrawn by the company or rejected by the council, in case it also becomes subject to a Call In proceedure. Highthorn being called in could also influence the other pending coal mine applications at Hilltop and Nant Llesg.

The mine would potentially increase the amount of traffic on an already busy commuter route, increase local pollution as a result of mine workings and increased heavy goods vehicles, lower local house prices and would also have a devastating effect on local wildlife. The amount of coal available to mine is just 800,000 tonnes – a relatively small amount when you consider that the other Banks Mining application at Highthorn near Druridge Bay would take at least 3 million tonnes, although known reserves are at least 7 million tonnes at Highthorn.

There are six designated heritage assets within 2km of the Dewley Hill site. These are Hadrian’s wall, Dewley Hill round barrow, Round cairn at Heddon Law Farm, Northumberland Gardens, historic coal workings (including mediaeval mine shafts) and High Callerton Conservation areas. There are also potentially other non-protected heritage sites which could be affected by an opencast coal mine, such as historic wagon ways which were used to move coal from early mines.

The planning application number 16/00117/SCO.

The site is currently used for agriculture and has footpaths, mature hedges, immature trees , the headwater catchment of Ouseburn and part of the Dewley Burn catchment. The site is adjacent to the Hallow Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), where there are protected lowland grasslands and fens which supports several species of butterfly. The site has been mined by both deep mining and opencast in the past. The site is in greenbelt.

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