UK Coal are seeking to get permission to opencast in the Pont Valley in order to extract thousands of tonnes of coal. This will result in the wholescale destruction of this beautiful area - resulting in something that looks like this:
The purpose of the NOTT campaign is to unite the people of the Pont Valley villages who will suffer if this scheme goes ahead and say NO to UK Coal,inviting those that pass through to join with us.
NOTT - No Opencast Today or Tomorrow
NOTT is the 3rd campaign since 1986 to fight off opencasting in our area, specifically on this site. A public inquiry ruled in favour of the 1st campaign. Durham County Council rejected a further application to opencast this site in 2000 but ruled in favour of opencasting the Stony Heap site last year . Mineral extraction at this site is now almost complete. We fear that having been rebuffed in proposals to opencast other sites in or close to the Derwent Valley and having worked out Stony Heap, the next likely site to be proposed will be Bradley followed by the whole of Billingside. This will take us right back to where we were in 1986 and ruled against then by the Public Inspector. We are concerned that DDC have already sent a strong signal to potential opencasters by including the "Bradley" site as a possible site for mineral extraction in their Mineral Issues and Options Report, despite rejecting an application to opencast this exact site in 2000. We fear that if our campaign is unsuccessful, opencasting may soon spread even beyond Billingside.
We share the Public Inspector's reasoning in support of his judgement and time has strengthened, not weakened, our case. We believe that we can present a strong and considered case against opencasting and seek to convince you of this in the pages of this website, not by emotional appeal but by gathering up and presenting accurate information to which any individual, organisation, activity or group from our immediate area and beyond can contribute. When we achieve this, we ask you to join us and sign our on-line petition.
Application to DDC for GCN Ponds - 18 Nov 08
This is a personal view but I do hope folks think very hard before objecting to this application. At least get along to the council offices and give it a read. Alternatively, look at the copy in the Dipton Community Centre. Or last and if you want, we can put a linked copy on line as we did with CMA/1/37. Your choice but you need to let me know if the latter.
Now would be a good time to remind yourself of the background if only to re-acquant yourselves with the rules of the game! Do not think in terms of fair or unfair, right or wrong; think only in terms of the rules.
View this application, which should go before the Derwentside District Council before 1 Apr 09, for what it is: an application to do something positive with 1 hectare of the Pontburn Valley. Would this automatically be a bad thing because UK Coal propose it? No doubt its the thin end of the wedge but can we object simply because the ponds are an essential adjunct to their wider plans?
Please give this some deeper thought before you rush into writing letters of objection. So far the campaign has been well thought through and is being well fought. We've tried to deal in facts and not fiction, within the rules of the game. Let's not get complacent and risk missing an opportunity.
This is the planning application:http://www.pontvalley.net/dms/display.php?id=278&t=1229589171
Letters to DCC Councillors
One or two people have asked about writing to DCC councillors in advance of the next step in the planning process, the formal committee meeting. This might be useful. Those on forum can also download a word document to help. You will also find a list of current councillors through the DCC website. Hand-written is, apparently, preferable as it shows the effort is being made. Bit like the website perhaps, if folks care to use it.
CMA/1/37 – APPLICATION BY UK COAL TO SURFACE MINE BRADLEY ON DERWENTSIDE
I write now in respect of the subject.
In the not too distant future, Planning Application CMA/1/37 will come before you. In the space of one or two hours all the weight of documentation will be methodically set before you along with the recommendations of your officers. You and your colleagues sitting on the planning committee will be called on to make a decision.
This decision, whether to allow this place that I now call home to be spoiled once more with ugly scars on a landscape, or more deeply but less obviously with the psychological scars caused by inconsideration will not be taken lightly. However, few if any of the committee members will quite understand just how enormous would be the consequences of a decision to proceed. Some may be minded to accept the pressure being put upon you to work ‘in the national interest’ and grant UK Coal permission to proceed with their plans.
On paper and on the face of it these plans look entirely reasonable. They are a matter of record as are now the views of our communities. A closer inspection than is possible in the short time that the papers will be before you will however reveal errors and inaccuracies as well as blatant omissions. Some of these are glaring and others more subtle. UK Coal will as always play for the crowd and rely on their considerable experience and expertise in matters of this nature. Whereas we seek to rely on fact.
Here in this part of Derwentside we are well used to fighting our own corner, not always successfully but always with a passion and conviction not easy to understand let alone appreciate. The planning procedures do not easily lend themselves to capturing the depth of feeling that the vast majority of local people likely to be affected might have tried to reflect in their many, many letters of objection and signed petitions. These will be reduced to dry statistics and synopses
I ask you therefore to take the time in advance of the committee hearing to read up and research the thousands of pages of information, painstaking collected and collated, by your own officers as well as our network, the Pont Valley Network. This will not be easy but is worth doing. Then gauge the depth of feeling and the impact which we believe surface mining now would have on our reviving communities. This has been hard work and is worth reflecting upon.
We have sought to bring together as much as we might have discovered and set out as objectively as possible in one place, our website which is www.pontvalley.net. We believe that the facts should speak for themselves and ask only that those making decisions for us should fully understand and appreciate the enormous effort that has gone into this and many other campaigns before it so that the correct decision is taken.
Free from the threat of this or future applications of a similar nature we might then move on furtherwith our lives, redirecting the same amount of energy to what truly matters. Rebuilding our communities with the same energy and commitment as we had to do the last time UK Coal and their like were in these parts.
NOTT Campaign Update - 22 Aug 08
Lots of folks in yellow jackets with a bit of plant digging holes (or more accurately) trenches in sight of the main road during the past few ways. Find out more, let us know but we think it likely this is further evaluation/re-evaluation and soil sampling. May recall that these aspects, addressed in the Environmental Statement submitted on behalf of UK Coal were of concern to some of the statutory consultees and DCC will have sought clarrification from UK Coal's consultants. Can't be cheap and we wish we'd had the use of even one of these diggers during Hope 08 in Leadgate.
Not too far away, four Red Kites, two adults and, we think, 2 juveniles, engaged in the same sort of behaviour observed in February/March i.e tumbling and diving into adjacent woodland. Highly unusual at this time of the year and normally associated with courtship and breeding. If anyone sees this behaviour in the same place, tell us with a comment on site.
Closer to Leadgate (remarkably!) confirmed sitings of Red Squirrels and the deer fawns are doing well after the crossbow incident reported earlier. Some more wildlife is returning while wildlife, of the human kind, is at a seasonal low - save for the destruction of the Bishop's Throne behind Brooms church. To offset this, 3 salvaged stone/wood benches put in adjacent to the C2C through Leadgate, helped by some that might otherwise be doing the breaking in these long Summer holidays. And remember, we still have some kindling wood/sleeper logs available along in Leadgate as per Home Page announcement - as well as a few salvaged 1-metre lengths of sleeper suitable for making bank-side steps.
Highly unlikely that UK Coal's application CMA/1/03 will see the light of day anytime soon, though public holidays around Chritmas and new year might present a temping prospect. These tactics are well established, even as far back as 1970-72 and an even earlier application, for which we now also have press cuttings covering that particular campaign. These will be scanned to www.pontvalley.net
to run as a slide show, once we also have an earlier Video converted to DVD and other photographs around the creation of the C2C and "The Maze" also copied to site. What fun to sit on top of a "strategic reserve"! Imagine how much more time we might devote to our communities if not for this constant threat. DCC or whatever they may in future be called have a golden opportunity to undo some of the damage done in changing the framework documents earlier.
Anyone wants to add anything with a response to this message or comment(s) around various topics on site, feel free.
The Pont Valley is used extensively for leisure pursuits such as hiking and rambling. This is an obvious recreational use and UK Coal may claim that their proposal will enhance access to the wooded valley in the longer term and opencasting stop short of the woods. They may even claim that the two existing rights of way across what are now open fields willl be temporarily diverted but will be restored, bigger and better, to join up with the Coast to Coast cycleway. But we believe from evidence of such schemes elsewhere and detailed studies that we include elsewhere on site, that great damage will be done in the short term and not only to ramblers. They, like we that live in communities around the Pont Burn Valley sharing it with our returning wildlife of all kinds, think that even temporary disruption has enormous knock-on consequences. Further we know that any damage done now will be disastrous and not only to ramblers.
Created on 08/05/2007 12:39 PM by rmr
Updated on 19/12/2009 08:24 AM by dshields