Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Banks Mining's Druridge Bay open cast plan begins to dig the political dirt

The Druridge Bay open cast plan has begun to mine a rich seam of politics. A bit like the coal the politics was always very near the surface and, judging by a report in the Chronicle, is now in plain view.

A few days before the July 5th Council planning meeting the Labour shadow Energy Secretary, Brian Gardiner MP, called on the government to call in the proposal, i.e. effectively make it a decision for central Government. This generally means that a planning bid is either of strategic importance and/or something on which the government has a definite opinion, for or against, and does not want to leave to local councils. Given the sentiment prior to the meeting amongst many following the case that the proposal would be approved such a call suggests Brian Gardiner is against and he made clear the government should stop it progressing.
His stance seems to have angered local labour politicians, provoking council leader Grant Davey to hit back, clearly worried about labour’s chances in forthcoming elections.   The Chronicle’s report quotes a letter from Mr Davey to Labour central as saying:
“This blatant attack on our minority administration and the creation of a viewpoint that Labours National Energy Policy has been written by the Green Party, will do nothing to aid Labour’s recovery in Northumberland and as we have all out elections in May 2017 I do hope we have time to recover from the massive damage done to our reputation by this man.”
Which makes the link between the planning committees vote and the politics very exact, both the immediate part political concerns of the local Labour party but also a small subtle sense of schism between the Labour Party  seen as closely allied to the Greens versus the local party in Northumberland rooted in proud traditions of mining. Opposition to the mine is routinely portrayed as outsiders (the anti - signatories from as far afield as Madagascar and Bangladesh....). Now it looks like the fault lines are opening up between the metropolitan Corbynists and the local labour traditionalists
Check out the comments following the Chronicle piece and you’ll see how quickly the Druridge Bay open cast has got mired in the debate around Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/highthorn-mine-leader-accuses-jeremy-11578359.
Meantime the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management ran a pond morning gat the bay on Saturday with people coming up from as far as Teesside to admire the Bay’s fine wetlands. Here we are: I expect they are watching for me to fall in.

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