We've been here before:

6 years ago, Cllr Jonathan Wallace successfully led the campaign against plans to opencast a site on Fellside Road, Whickham, which would have seen 100 heavy lorries a day passing through local villages.

Now the same company, Hall Construction Services Ltd, say that their new plans will mean heavy lorries travelling instead on country lanes via Lamesley to the A1

The planning application

You can find full details of the planning application for open cast mining at Birklands on Gateshead Council's Planning Application website: planning.gateshead.gov.uk

About Birklands:

Birklands is beautiful countryside on Tyneside's doorstep. It is near the Tanfield Railway and Beamish Museum.

There is woodland maintained by the Woodland Trust in the vicinity and the area is rich in wildlife.

Local roads are inadequate to cope with the heavy lorries that will use them if planning permission is granted.

Villages such as Lamesley and Kibblesworth will be most directly affected but lorries will also travel to the A1 roundabout at the south end of the Team Valley and that means Birtley and Chowdene could be affected as well.

A planning application to open cast 225,000 tonnes of coal at Birklands, to the south of Marley Hill, could open the door to more opencast mining near Kibblesworth, Lamesley, Sunniside, Marley Hill and Byermoor.

The plans will mean heavy lorries travelling on the narrow country lanes to reach Lamesley and the A1.

But serious concerns remain about the ability of these roads to cope with the heavy lorries. There are also worries about damage to the environment and noise and dust which could impact on nearby villages.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace, who has been asked by residents of Hedley Hall Farm, the hamlet closest to the proposed site, to help the campaign against the proposals, said, "There is a great deal of coal under the ground especially to the south of Sunniside, Marley Hill and Byermoor that can only be mined by opencast means. If this application is given the go-ahead, it could open the door to other, much bigger opencast schemes right on our doorsteps.".

A petition has now been launched opposing the opencast plans and you can sign it here.

Photo - Birklands says No

Petition - Say 'NO' to open cast:

We, the undersigned, express our concern at proposals to opencast 225,000 tonnes of coal from Birkland Lane, between Kibblesworth, Sunniside, Marley Hill and Beamish.

In particular we believe that:

  • roads in the area are inadequate and the extra traffic, especially heavy lorries, will significantly increase the dangers of accidents;
  • the increased noise of lorries will impact adversely on residents of Hedley Hall Farm, Birklands Lane, Kibblesworth and Lamesley;
    noise from the site will impact adversely on all surrounding villages and settlements;
  • damage to countryside and the greenbelt will result;
    the environment of the area will be damaged in the short term and will take many years to recover;
  • the tourism potential of the area will be setback, therefore threatening current and prospective jobs in the tourism industry.

We therefore call on Gateshead Council’s Planning Committee to reject application DC/11/00687/MIN for opencast coal mining at Birklands Lane near Kibblesworth.

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Councillor Jonathan Wallace will pass on all comments and names and addresses to the Council, so that they know what you think about this proposal. You can also write direct to the Council at "Development Management, Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead NE8 1HH".

Jonathan Wallace and the Liberal Democrats and their elected representatives may use the information you have provided to contact you from time to time about issues we think you may find of interest. Some of the contacts may be automated. You can opt out at any time by contacting us at 97 Front Street, Whickham NE16 4JL or in the comment box above.