At 5:30 this morning three individuals blocked the road in front of the Tynedale Roadstone Depot on the Newburn Haugh Industrial Estate, on Newburn, Newcastle. They are intending to stay there all day to stop the deliveries of tarmac and machinery to the Bradley opencast site, between Leadgate and Dipton, near Consett, County Durham. They are using lock-on devices to form a human barrier.
Sam who is locked-on on the road, says: “Opencast coal mining causes catastrophic climate change and hurts communities. We’re here to support the communities who have been fighting a long battle to save the precious Pont Valley – by stopping the tarmac and machines which are meant to build the access road. Tyndale Roadstone and all other companies supplying Banks Group are complicit in their reckless and destructive plan.”
After several hours the company created a new entrance by taking down their security fences in order to allow lorries to leave the depot.
“This afternoon, in an act of desperation, MGL Group, with the assistance of Northumbria Police, demolished their own site wall in order to construct an access road from their compound to bypass our blockade. The road was built in a reckless and spontaneous manner, passing over a public footpath and a regenerating meadow, neither of which were closed to the public. During this process no road management was put into place by the company, which demonstrates their total disregard for public safety.”
This comes two days before the deadline for Banks Group to trigger planning permission for the opencast coal extraction site which aims to extract 550,000 tons of coal for use mainly in coal-fired power stations. Banks Group claim to have commenced work despite failure to complete their pre-commencement works.
Suzanne Leigh, a resident of Dipton, who is present at the protest, says: “If Banks think we’re going to leave them be, they can think again. Local people have fought for thirty years to keep this Valley green, keep the air breathable, and keep fossil fuels under the ground. In that time this country has moved past coal. Coal is our heritage but the Valley itself is the asset we value most here. The council and the secretary of state should stand up to this company for the sake of the community and the climate.”