Banks begin clearing hundred year old trees at Bradley
26th February 2018

Today I got to visit for the first time the beautiful place, called Bradley by Banks mining company,  that lies to the south west edge of the village of Dipton. Snow fell, feet frozen, we got down on our knees to meet some of the rare plants that make up part of this diverse habitat. Plants with hairs to survive the cold, low to the ground, finding a home in these bell pits. Plants that support the rare butterflies that hopefully will have a habitat come the summer. We felt the silt under which the great crested newts are hibernating. 

I saw the trees and hedges that Banks felled just this morning. Short and bent over with the cold pennine winds, some have been here for as many generations as the families. For humans who get their food and shelter from bricks and supermarkets, it is easy to dismiss the significance but for some of the birds on this site, these hedges are food and shelter.

I met and listened to Lea who told me about he use to go pond dipping in the pond as a child, he told me about the routes the newts would make, the woods down below where his grandfather and father worked as gamekeepers and learnt how to work with the foxes rather than needing to shoot them. I got a sense of how everything, contributes to binding the place together. 

I also felt that words fail to convey what is really at stake in this 11th hour fight to stop Bradley – how peoples lives are entwined with this place.

This evening at the Dipton Social Club we heard from Tom who played in the woods as a kid, dressing up as animals. We heard from Liam who said that even though his family have attachment to the area to be mined, and he opposes it for these reasons, that the site should be protected. We watched a preview of After Open Cast, a short film which talks about how people are fighting for restoration for opencast coal sites in South Wales how their struggle for justice has meant that all new mines must put  money in a pot for restoration before they start digging.

We ended the evening sharing ideas and planning together about what to do now, given that Banks have began to work the site and we are still waiting to heard from the Secretary of the State.

Out walking around the site, i was so awed by the stories, history, diversity that I didn’t feel my feet turn to ice and my nose start t burn as the wind and snow came. I feel sad at the thought of this land being ripped up to be opencast mined, and I have only just met it. I cant begin to imagine what it is like for people whose families have made their home here for generations.

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  1. How do you capture the true depth of what this means to all of the villages? How can one describe the depth of local indignation at what is intended? Not easily and certainly not in one or two media releases, no matter how well written.

    So what else can we do. Get yourselves onto http://www.pontvalley.co.uk or, if you can, back onto an earlier website http://www.pontvalley.net. Take a few minutes and y0u’ll find things like this http://www.pontvalleynet.co.uk/winter-walk-2014.html


  2. Nature has not a chance whilst the many are indifferent to atrocities such as this. Keep up the fight good people.

  3. The coal action network giving their time & expertise to saving the rare habitats of the Bradley site in County Durham from the ravages of open cast coal by Banks Group, has galvanized the campaign with over 80. 000 signatures to their petition. greater public & press awareness since their involvement The tireless work of the Coal Action Network could result in Sajid Javid revoking Bank’s permit & it has been a pleasure to meet them over the last few days. Please support their campaign & oppose open cast mining that destroys nature, lives & communities wherever coal is ripped from the Earth in this way.
    My sincere thanks also to the wonderful & truly inspiring environmental campaigners from the Hambacher Forest in Germany for their help, skills & endlessly warm presence in such bitterly cold arctic weather.

  4. This plan is total madness,the last thing we need is more coal ,the devastation of open cast mining is going to be disastrous for the local community and add to our carbon emissions.I hope the Tor’y government will reject this ,. but having seen their record on environmental protection have serious doubts. Never give up your protest.

  5. Patricia Thompson

    I remember how devastated I was as a 5year-old to discover that the beautiful place I had just come to love as a family picnic site when my father came home at the end of WW2 could no longer be visited because it had been turned over to open-cast. Perhaps we needed it then, we don’t now, and I really feel for all my fellow countrymen seeking to resist the rape of the earth.


    1. Please let local MP Laura Pidcock know that you want her to object to the application if you are in her constituency. Otherwise we are waiting on Secretary of State Sajid Javid to see if he will revoke planning permission