Controversial plans for an opencast mine close to Druridge Bay have been given the go-ahead by Northumberland County Council

Banks Group plans to dig three million tonnes of coal from the site, at Highthorn, Northumberland, by 2023.

Campaigners had said the plans would cause irreparable damage to the land and wildlife.

The application was ‘minded to be approved’ by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee - meaning the decision will now be passed to the Secretary of State for their consideration.

The proposals, from Banks Mining, would see the creation of a surface mine to extract coal, sandstone and fireclay, and includes plans for restoring the site once work is complete.

Extraction would take place over five years with total operations lasting seven years, taking account of the time to set up the site and complete restoration.

The company said the scheme would create at least 100 full-time jobs during the working of the site, with approximately 50 new jobs and around 50 staff transferred from their other sites.

Council leader Grant Davey said while he appreciated it was a controversial issue, the mine would bring much needed jobs to the area and boost economic growth in the county.

I fully accept this has been a long and difficult process, with strong feelings on both sides, but I do believe this decision is in the best interests of Northumberland and its residents."

Northumberland County Council leader Grant Davey

Scores of campaigners turned up ahead of the meeting on Tuesday to protest against the plans.