Though the plan has been rejected by Gateshead Council, the applicants, Halls of Durham, have appealed to the government to overturn the decision.
Local Lib Dem Councilllor Jonathan Wallace has launched a petition to the Secretary of State calling on her to reject the appeal. Nearly 1000 people have so far signed it.
Fiona also visited Lobley Hill in Gateshead to speak to local Lib Dem campaigners about the impact on the area of heavy lorries if the opencast plan is given the go ahead.
Photos: Fiona joins Lobley Hill campaigner Susan Craig, resident Nigel Evans and Councillor Yvonne McNicol at Lobley Hill. Bottom right, Fiona with some of the 40 residents who came to meet her at Skons Park