Relieved campaigners say the fight to stop a new coal mine from being dug on the outskirts of Ponteland has been “life-changing” and “really overwhelming”.

The battle over plans for an opencast mine on more than 250 acres of green belt land at Dewley Hill, near Stamfordham Road and the A69, came to a head earlier this month – when Newcastle planning chiefs unanimously rejected the controversial plans.

To celebrate their triumph, a handful of people from the Defend Dewley Hill action group gathered for a socially distant walk at the beauty spot.

Jos Forester-Melville, who has led the local campaign to safeguard the land for the past two years, said: “It was lovely – the weather was beautiful and it showed the land in all its glory.

“It was so nice to be there knowing that it won’t be dug up. Everyone just felt very together and proud of the fact that we had achieved something massive.”

The plans from the Banks Group and the neighbouring Throckley brickworks could have seen 800,000 tonnes of coal and 400,000 tonnes of fireclay extracted from the green space in a three-and-a-half-year operation.

Thousands of people objected to the proposal and Newcastle City Council’s planning committee firmly sided with council officers’ view that the mine would be “inappropriate” for the green belt and “cannot be considered ‘environmentally acceptable’”. 

And while Banks could yet launch an appeal against the decision, the campaigners are happy to see the verdict as an early Christmas present.

Jos walks the land regularly with her children and their dog.

She said: “The thing that is really overwhelming about this is that the campaign has been from ordinary people. Yes we have been supported by all these other groups, but in Throckley it has been ordinary people who have no history of campaigning or being activists.

“We just connected over something that’s hugely important to us. It is very personal to us, it has huge meaning.

“I am knackered – this has been like a job for the past two years because it takes so much effort to fight these things and do it properly.

“It has been life-changing. It has made me look at life differently."