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Residents of Durham celebrate the end of open pit coal mining in England with a picnic UK News

Campaigners celebrated the end of surface mining in the Pont Valley in County Durham with a soggy community picnic.

In August 2020, the Bradley mine closed permanently after plans to expand the site were rejected.

Today, around 12 residents of Dipton, Leadgate and the surrounding area gathered at the site of the former surface coal site.

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The group raised a glass of champagne to celebrate on Saturday, June 26.

Local resident June Davison said: “We took shelter under one of the trees that was rescued from the Banks Group surface coal mine today for a celebratory picnic because the company finally stopped coal in our valley.

“Banks’ restoration plan will not ‘put the earth back in place’, but at least now she can begin her slow recovery and has been prevented from taking further damage because we shut down the mine that was spreading in The valley. “

Banks Mining wanted to expand the Bradley mine in Leadgate, County Durham, to extract an additional 90,000 tonnes of coal from the site and 20,000 tonnes of fireclay from 18.5 hectares of land.

But the proposal was fiercely opposed by activists and received more than 6,000 letters of opposition, with Extinction Rebellion also organizing a three-day protest at the site.

The Durham County Council planning committee rejected the request at a meeting last year, although planners recommended it for approval.

At the time, Mark Dowdall, director of environment and community at The Banks Group, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the decision, saying it had “given much needed jobs to Russian miners.”

Representatives of the Banks Group had tried to argue that the plans would protect jobs at the site and support British industry by providing an alternative to imported coal from America, Russia or Australia.

They also argued that the “small extension” would have “minimal effects” on the surrounding area, which was supported by some committee members.