Mine future on agenda

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PLANNING councillors are set to meet next week to decide the future of a controversial application for a former mine.

NDL Estates has submitted plans to reopen the former ICI Billingham anhydrite mine to store hazardous waste, and it could be given the green light as early as next week.

Objectors say business will not come to Billingham and fear the development will affect house prices there and in neighbouring areas.

The mine has been closed for more than 30 years after operating between 1927 and 1971.

But the bid has prompted numerous objections from residents’ groups and Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.

Concerns include the town being used as a dumping ground, health worries and that it could lead to the storage of nuclear waste.

But the applicants say there is a need nationally for the safe storage of such waste that cannot go to landfill.

If passed by Stockton Borough Council, the development will see the storage of just over 100,000 tonnes of waste a year under Belasis Hall Technology Park and Cowpen Industrial Estate.

The application also includes a site office, laboratory, staff car park, and handling and treatment facility.

The proposal is being recommended for approval.

A council report says: “An assessment has been undertaken and it is considered that the proposed development would have a positive impact on the local and regional economy through employment, generation of supply lines and helping the region to achieve strategic targets for hazardous waste development.”

The Environment Agency said it has no objections, subject to numerous conditions being imposed.

Billingham Town Council is not objecting to the development.

MP for Stockton North Alex Cunningham said: “Residents fear that once the mine is re-opened, it can only lead to a series of other applications to dump all manner of waste in the caverns and, in this day and age with greater emphasis on the nuclear industry, which could well include nuclear waste in the future.”

The application is due to be discussed on Wednesday.