For seven years, one local community fought plans to establish an opencast coal mine in Druridge Bay, on the Northumberland coast.
Had it been given the go-ahead, millions of tonnes of coal would have been extracted and burned, spelling disaster for the climate and the local community. Thankfully, residents and campaigners were rewarded for their hard work in October 2020 with news that the mine won't be going ahead.
Read on to discover the beauty of Druridge Bay, hear from local people who fought the coal mine, and understand why community action matters.
Where is Druridge Bay?
Druridge Bay is a beautiful 7-mile stretch of white-sand beaches on England's north-east coast.
Jobs and livelihoods depend on tourism in the area, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
From the harbour town of Amble in the north, to Cresswell in the south, the area boasts rock pools, woodland and grassland habitats.
It's a popular local walking spot, and is famous for an annual skinny-dip dawn bathing event.
I was shocked and angry that an opencast coal mine could even be considered in such a beautiful area.Duncan Lawrence, local cafe owner and member of the Save Druridge campaign group.
Druridge Bay is home to an abundance of wildlife.
Species include: hares, curlews, skylarks, lapwings and yellowhammers.
It provides a vital over-wintering habitat to migrating birds such as greylag and pink-footed geese.
Banks Mining proposes a coal mine
In 2013 Banks Mining applied to dig England's largest opencast coal mine at Druridge Bay.
In energy terms, burning coal is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. It causes air pollution and is linked to health concerns like asthma.
Mining coal leads to habitat and wildlife loss and marred landscapes.
I think people feel disbelief. How can you put something which scars the land so badly on such a beautiful place?Stephen, local resident
County council approves coal mine
To the anger and dismay of many local people, Northumberland county council votes to approve the plans.
"We’re going to have all this dust surrounding us for years. What impact is that going to have?" Maria Farrow Tate, resident.
There are fears about the effect on the local economy through loss of tourism and a slump in property prices.
Locals strike back with our help
Campaigning by Friends of the Earth, and community group Save Druridge, forces the government to intervene. Over 10,000 people take action in support of our campaign.
And then in March 2018 came the news we had fought for. Minister Sajid Javid rejects plans for the coal mine – stating it would have an “adverse effect on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change”.
Slightly stunned but very happy
"I was walking my dogs on the beach when my mobile rang. It was our local paper asking if I'd heard. We weren't expecting Sajid Javid to tweet the news.
"I became involved when I got the brochures through the door from Banks Mining stating they were to mine 7m tonnes of coal at Druridge Bay.
"I searched Druridge and found the Save Druridge group whom I contacted suggesting ideas. I was invited down to a meeting.
"Since that first meeting back in the summer of 2013 I have been heavily involved holding events and running the Facebook sites. It's been almost 6 years for me. I was initially looking for work but Save Druridge has taken over.
"Keep up the fight for our planet and its environment as each and everyone of us do make a difference."
Lynne Tate, local resident and member of Save Druridge
Banks Mining challenges the refusal
Only months later, a challenge by Banks Mining is upheld by the High Court.
The application goes back to the government for a second decision.
Now it's up to Mr Javid’s successor James Brokenshire to accept or refuse planning permission. We're determined to win the argument again for the people, the climate and the wildlife.
It was a kick in the teeth but we're still fighting
Duncan Lawrence, also a member of Save Druridge, runs the busy Drift Café at Cresswell next to the sand dunes on Druridge Bay.
"We’ve still got an extremely strong case, ourselves and Friends of the Earth, to win this. Things have gone further in our favour, I believe, since Javid made his decision."