THE company behind a controversial mining site for the Northumberland and Cumbria border has gone into administration before work to restore the land had started.

The community of Halton Lea Gate, near Haltwhistle, fought for more than a decade to prevent land at Halton Lea Farm becoming an opencast mine.

After previous firms had applications turned down, HM Projects Development submitted its first application to extract 140,000 tonnes of coal in 2011, which was refused by Northumberland County Council. However, a subsequent appeal a year later was approved by a planning inspector, with the scheme set to include the restoration of the 29 hectare site to a mix of agricultural and equestrian use, woodlands, ponds and wetlands.

At the end of April, Benjamin Wiles and Steven Muncaster, of Duff & Phelps, were appointed as joint administrators.

Mr Wiles said: “The company has been working on the development of a high profile opencast mining operation on the border of Northumberland and Cumbria for a number of years. It is our intention to work closely with officers from Northumberland County Council and other stakeholders, including the company’s lender, to secure the future of the operation given its impact on the local community.

“We are aware of the history surrounding the site, and hope that we are able to engage with the local community to ensure that the strategy we adopt for the mine has a more positive result for all stakeholders.”