Campaign to Protect Pont Valley

County Durham Coal Mine Extension Deemed ‘Environmentally Unacceptable’

Read time: 5 mins

Activists are celebrating an “incredible” victory after a bid to extend a coal mine in County Durham was finally scrapped.

Plans to dig up an additional 90,000 tonnes of coal from the site of the Bradley opencast mine were branded “environmentally unacceptable” by the council’s planning committee after a five-hour virtual meeting.

Documentary: Living with Coal – Resisting the UK's Newest Mine

Read time: 2 mins
Living with coal

Filmmaker Adam Levy was commissioned by DeSmog UK to visit local residents living with the UK's newest coal mine in Pont Valley, County Durham. He reflects on his experience making the documentary.

As a climate and science journalist with a doctorate in atmospheric physics, I think about fossil fuels a lot. I think about the gases they release when burned and the impact this will have on the global climate. I think about fossil fuels in numbers: the gigatonnes that we continue to dig up today and the temperature rises that burning these fuels will lead to.  

But I tend not to think about the actual physical fuels themselves.

Government Revisits Decision to Grant Planning Permission to the UK's Newest Coal Mine

Read time: 3 mins
Coal extraction at the Bradley mine

The government has agreed to revisit its decision to grant planning permission to a new coal mine in County Durham after admitting “a flaw” in the decision making-process. Residents have long argued that the mine would be inconsistent with the government’s coal phase-out plan.

The Department for Communities, Housing and Local Government has agreed to revisit the decision to allow the Bradley coal mine, in Pont Valley, to proceed after a judicial review was brought by local resident June Davison, who lives less than 300 metres from the mine.

Campaigners File for Court Case Against Banks Group Over Protection of Great Crested Newts at UK's Newest Coal Mine

Read time: 3 mins
Great Crested Newt

A coal mining company in County Durham is facing legal action over its treatment of protected species at the UK’s newest coal mine.

Campaigners from local protest group Campaign to Protect Pont Valley are bringing a civil case against Banks Group over its treatment of the habitat of great crested newts, a protected species, at the newly-opened Bradley mine in Pont Valley, Country Durham.

Banks are accused of deliberately disturbing or destroying the habitat of great crested newts at the site. Lawyers for the campaigners say this would be a criminal offence under regulation 43 of The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017.

‘The Law Will Protect a Species, But not its Ecosystem’ — Fighting for Wildlife at the UK’s Newest Coal Mine

Read time: 4 mins
Tent in a tree at Pont Valley coal protest

One of the protesters acquitted last week of trespassing on a new coal mine site in County Durham has spoken out against the legal system that protects designated animal species but fails to protect the climate.

Sarah Johnson was found not guilty of aggravated trespass along with seven other protesters, after the group argued they had been fighting to prevent a wildlife crime against a newt species classified as endangered by European law.

It’s really bittersweet,” Johnson said of the outcome, “because the law serves to protect this species as it should, but when it comes to the climate - that Banks Group is directly affecting by mining coal that will be burnt - that’s not protected. If we had argued for climate change, we probably wouldn’t have won.”

Revealed: Council not Enforcing Planning Breach at UK’s Newest Coal Mine

Read time: 4 mins
A digger at the Pont Valley coal mine site

Durham County Council has decided not to take action against Banks Mining over a planning breach at the UK’s newest coal mine, DeSmog UK can reveal.

The council told DeSmog UK that it would not seek to penalise Banks for failing to complete an access road to its mine at Bradley, County Durham, before commencing work as it was not “an efficient use of resources for us to take enforcement action.”

The completion of the access road was one of the conditions agreed between the council and Banks Mining as part of the planning permission for the mine. The way the clause is worded suggested the road needed to be completed prior to work commencing.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire Refuses to Revoke Planning Permission for Controversial Pont Valley Opencast Coal Mine

Read time: 3 mins
James Brokenshire

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has confirmed he will not revoke the planning permission for a controversial coal mine in County Durham.

Brokenshire revealed his decision in a letter to Green party MP Caroline Lucas. In the letter he states that:

… although there is a reserve power to revoke planning permission, it has been used very rarely and it is the department’s policy that such an intervention can only be justified in exceptional circumstances. The power will only be used if the original decision is judged to have been ‘grossly wrong’ …”.

‘Coal is our Heritage, not our Future’: Inside the Community Protecting Pont Valley from Banks Mining

Read time: 15 mins
Entrance to the Pont Valley Protection Camp

You can't miss them. One, two, three… a dozen wind turbines turning steadily despite the light breeze.

Look southwest towards the rolling Pennine hills, and there they are, silvery-white blades hidden against today's uncharacteristically bright sky. Look northeast towards Newcastle and there are more: some stationary, most turning, all giant symbols of how far this region has come.

Despite its history and reputation, this is not coal country anymore.

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