Join the Pont Valley Protection Camp!
4th March 2018
4

UPDATE: The camp has moved again, details to follow.

Do you want to help us to protect a beautiful valley, heritage mine workings, support a local community and stop fossil fuel extraction?

On Friday 2nd March the Pont Valley Protection Camp was set up almost opposite Brooms church, on the A692 near the junction with the A693.

Local residents and people from further afield have spoken with an ecologist and sensitively constructed defenses and living structures. Come and visit.

This is an active camp against Banks Groups’ intended opencast coal extraction. Please come and visit for a cup of tea, a day or come and stay.

Banks Group and their hired thugs – bailiffs and Durham Constabulary evicted the field camp and On the Verge on the 19th and 20th April. The campaign continues.

What have Banks done so far?

Banks have removed most of the trees and an ancient hedgeline from where it plans to build the access road. This is the land where the camp lies.

Banks say they wanted to work further on the access road at the end of March, in late April they started to prepare the access road.

Road issues

The A692, has been blocked three times in the week to the 6th March by utility issues and a broken down car, twice needing traffic lights. Each time causing delays back to the Jolly Drovers roundabout and the junction with the A693. If Banks start to work on their access road then there will be huge traffic disruption, if Banks starts coaling there would be an increase of 64 HGV movements on the road a day.

Community resistance

Coal companies have been trying to extract coal by opencast from this area for a long time, at least 30 years. Until 2015 all applications were stopped as the value of the landscape was seen as greater than the value of the coal. In June 2015 a planning inspector wrongly granted permission for coal extraction.

Banks Group said in January 2018 that they intend on extracting coal from Bradley. Commencement of coaling has to happen by the 3rd of June or Planning permission become void. A 86,806 signature petition was handed in to Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to demand that he uses his powers under the Town and Country Planning Act to revoke permission for a new opencast coal mine, ‘Bradley’. Local residents and groups have written to Sajid Javid to ask him to revoke planning permission and are awaiting an answer.

Ecology

The sites historic mine means that there is a range of habitats which have become ponds where great crested newts and others live, old bell pits provide nesting sites for ground nesting birds, intact hedges and mature trees support a wealth of wildlife. Spending just a couple of days at the camp means you can see snipe, badgers, buzzards and more. The recent snow has shown the frequency of wildlife in the area, yet Banks claim there are no longer great crested newts for them to translocate on the site. To loose the ecology here would be a travesty.

Camp infrastructure

The camp now has basic facilities for living. If you are coming to stay, its best to either let us know in advance (info@coalaction.org.uk) or bring a tent. Everyone needs to bring their own bedding.

Visiting

The camp is now at Pontop Hall, Dipton, County Durham, DH9 9ED. The track to the camp comes off Front Street at St John the Evangelist Church, Front Street, Dipton.

There are buses to Dipton from Stanley (number 6), Newcastle(X70) and Consett (X70).

What to bringing

The site is muddy, please where wellies and appropriate clothes for the weather. If you’re staying overnight please be aware that we are on an exposed site, so bring good bedding, clothing and personal items.

Wish list

The climate defenders at the camp need seasoned wood, walking socks, any spare thermals, extra clean second hand sleeping bags/bedding, straw and pallets, tarpaulins, carpet, building materials, batteries (AA & AAA), and vegan food. (Vegan food is vegetarian, but also without eggs, milk or honey, thanks.)

Most importantly they need you!

Come and support them to save the beautiful and biodiverse Pont valley and keep the coal in the ground – this is our front line in stopping climate change! https://www.coalaction.org.uk/2018/02/banks-begin-clearing-hundred-year-old-trees-at-bradley

Keep in touch

Check out the camp’s facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/211602879584065

Coal Action Network’s facebook and Twitter and this website for updates.

Leave a Reply

4 comments

  1. Keep fighting. Preserve a wonderful place.

  2. My partner and I would like to come and show our support for you on 25/3/18. If we bring homemade vegan soup (and other things) would you eat it (I know that you may like to know full authenticity so maybe prefer a packaged shop bought vegan item??) Please let me know because I want to make the soup tomorrow 🙂 How many of you are at the camp at the moment.

  3. Pleased that the camp is still continuing. When I passed on Sunday I assumed that you had disbanded with the eviction (which we missed when we were away last week). I do hope that Natural England are being cooperative on the GCN front. I did send a copy of your letter to DCC councillors and mentioned what my previous jobs had been. Good luck, Julie

  4. Hi I can confirm that I regularly caught and released great crested newts on the land on the road opposite Brooms church heading towards Dipton in the 1960s. They were very common then.