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Former pit goes back to nature

Easington Colliery, which closed in 1993. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

A new proposal aims to breathe new life into an old coal mine with plans to turn land in Easington Colliery into a nature reserve.

The former colliery, on the outskirts of the village towards the coast, closed in 1993 and the site was landscaped for wildlife and recreation six years later.

Now, proposals have been unveiled to declare the land, which is owned by Durham County Council, as a local nature reserve to help protect the site for future generations and get more local people involved.

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are a great place for families to enjoy and to interact with the natural environment.

By formally declaring the site as a nature reserve we would be protecting it in the long-term and providing an accessible recreational facility in Easington as well as allowing local groups to help offer environmental learning and health-based events for the whole community.

– Cllr Neil Foster, the council's Cabinet member for economic regeneration

The site boasts a high conservation value as it contains species such as the common toad, skylark and dingy skipper butterfly.

It also features many different types of habitats including woodland, ponds and lowland meadow.

As well as highlighting the area's natural qualities, confirming the site as a LNR will also help attract future funding to further improve public access and nature conservation.

Consultation with the local community has shown strong support for the plan with many residents expressing an interest in getting involved. It has also been welcomed and backed by Natural England.

The proposal is due to go before members of Durham County Council's Cabinet when they meet at County Hall later today (October 15).

Northumberland building world's longest undersea cable

A billion pounds is to be spent building the world's longest undersea electricity cable from Northumberland.

The 700 mile long link will connect electricity supplies from Blyth to Norway, and onto Germany.

It is expected to create hundreds of jobs for the region by 2020.

The process involves a thick twist of wire which lies under the seabed.

It is called an interconnector - and there are already four of them linking the south coast to Holland and France, as well as the west of the country to Ireland.

But this project is far more ambitious. It will be the longest subsea interconnector in the world linking us to Norway and Germany.

It will take around three years for the link to be built from the Northumberland coast to Norway.

It will be three metres under the seabed and the whole thing would carry around one and a half gigawatts of electricity.

I think it is good news.

I think one of the big concerns about renewable energy is the security of supply.

This increases our security of supply, gives us the opportunity to export when its windy like today when we've got a surplus of wind power and also gives us the chance to import hydro-power from Norway in times of low wind in the North East.

– Tony Quinn Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

The end of the wire will be here at East Sleekburn near Blyth. But the plans are part of a larger scheme for the south east of Northumberland.

The wasteland where we're currently standing will be transformed.

There will be a large connector station here and then there will be 750 miles of cable running to this point to Norway and the overall plan for the estuary will be to bring in over 1000 jobs in the energy industries into Blyth.

– Peter Mcintyre Arch The Northumberland Development Company

Professor Phil Taylor is from the institute of sustainability at Newcastle University. He's in favour of the project but says maintaining power supply is key.

I guess you could argue by having this interconnector we could become more reliant on other countries.

If we lost that interconnector it might mean we would lose supply and therefore we'd have to make sure there was a balance making best use of the interconnector but not becoming overly reliant on it.

– Professor Phil Taylor, Institute of Sustainability at Newcastle University

The cable will carry enough electricity to boiling more than half a million kettles at any one time. Work will start in 2017 with a view to complete it in 2020. Frances Read ITV News Blyth.

View Frances Read's full report below:


Whitby's piers "could collapse at any time"

The government's being urged to take Credit: PA Images

There are warnings that one of the piers which protects Whitby could "collapse at any time" as a plea for urgent government funding is made to protect the town. An appeal's been made to the Government for 3.8 million pounds of emergency funding to save the town's two landmark piers, amid warnings the situation is now "critical". A delegation of local politicians has told the Government that the harbour and surrounding homes and businesses could be at risk unless there is swift action.

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Plan to be submitted for York potash mine

Controversial plans for the world's biggest potash mine to be sunk in the North York Moors National Park are to be submitted today.

Plan to be submitted for York potash mine Credit:

The firm behind the £1bn scheme near Whitby, says it would create 1,000 jobs, but critics say it would blight one of the region's finest landscapes and pave the way for other large scale developments in Britain's national parks.

The mine would target the world's largest untapped reserve of polyhalite - a mineral which is used as fertiliser to boost crop yields.

North York Moors National Park officials said today the mine is believed to be the largest ever major development proposal submitted to a National Park Authority in England.

If operating today at full capacity of 13 million tonnes of polyhalite ore per year, it is understood that the mine would be the world’s largest potash mine in terms of the amount of potash extracted.

The plan involves the construction of two 1,500 metre deep mine shafts on land at Dove’s Nest Farm, near Sneaton, four miles south of Whitby.

Also planned is a 250 metre deep tunnel running 23 miles from the mine site to Wilton on Teesside where the extracted mineral would be granulated for export.

The tunnel would have an access shaft at Dove’s Nest Farm and three intermediate access points on the route to Wilton, one within the national park, near Egton, the second just outside the park boundaries near Lockwood Beck Reservoir and the third near Guisborough.

The Authority understands the significance of the proposals and will carefully assess the planning considerations of the development which will include the environmental impacts and economic benefits. We will approach the new application with an open mind and the proposed development will be determined in the context of our local plan policies and government policy which is that major development should not take place in National Parks unless there are exceptional circumstances of public interest. I want to assure people that we will take all relevant considerations into account before reaching any decision.

– Chris France, Director of Planning at the North York Moors National Park Authority
Plan to be submitted for York potash mine Credit:

We believe we have a compelling planning case that clearly demonstrates that the York Potash Project can deliver exceptional economic benefits, not only locally here in North Yorkshire and in Teesside but also for the wider UK economy.

We have planned the project with a very high regard for the environment and where possible minimising associated impacts. However, it is now for each authority to determine the applications according to the relevant policies and we keenly await their decisions.

– Chris Fraser, managing director Sirius Minerals

A decision on whether to grant the mine permission is expected next year.

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