A WILDLIFE trust has severed ties with a mining firm, amid pressure from campaigners opposing controversial plans for a coal mine on the outskirts of Ponteland.

The Northumberland Wildlife Trust is removing the Banks Group as one of its corporate sponsors after proposals for an opencast mine at Dewley Hill.

Mike Pratt, the trust’s chief executive, said it had previously worked with Banks to secure environmental benefits in other projects – but they now wanted to take a stand.

“The reason we are doing this is we are now looking to underline the fact that we do not approve of their constant applications and proposals for opencast coal extraction.

“We are totally against coal extraction as a trust, so we cannot be associated with an organisation which keeps pushing that.”

However, Banks condemned the trust’s decision as short-sighted. The County Durham-based company lodged a planning application for the Dewley Hill mine with Newcastle City Council earlier this year, but a petition opposing it already has more than 16,000 signatures.

Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at the Banks Group, said: “It is disappointing that the trust has taken this short-sighted decision based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the implications of not using indigenous supplies to meet the UK’s continuing need for coal.”