Friday, July 27, 2007

Opencast appeal withdrawn

LIBERAL Democrat councillors who fought plans for a huge opencast mine in western Gateshead have welcomed the decision of the applicant to withdraw their appeal.

Halls of Durham had applied for planning permission to opencast a site at Skons Park, next to the historic Gibside estate near Whickham, Burnopfield and Rowlands Gill.

But the planning application was refused by Gateshead Council after a huge campaign by residents, campaign groups and local councillors.

Halls had appealed to the government’s planning inspectors to overturn the decision and a public inquiry was due to take place in the autumn. But now the appeal has been withdrawn, the inquiry will no longer go ahead.

Councillor Jonathan Wallace, one of the leaders of the campaign against the opencast plans, said he was delighted the appeal had been withdrawn but warned that there may be a new application to opencast the site shortly.

“It is likely that Halls must have seen that their appeal would not survive the scrutiny of a public inquiry,” said Councillor Wallace.

“It is unfortunate that Halls have put local councils and the planning inspectorate to such trouble. After all that, they have now accepted that their planning application was inadequate and lacked necessary information.

“However, that was always obvious to those who campaigned against this application and to Gateshead Council’s Planning Department.

“This however is not the end of the story. It is likely that Halls will submit a new application later this year. Those who fought this application last time are, I am sure, ready to do battle again.”

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