Mines and Quarries
Exposures in mines and quarries provide unique opportunities to see and study local rocks. Mineral exploitation has contributed, and continues to contribute, much to the district’s essential character and landscape. Mineral working can, however, cause major disturbance to the environment and people’s living conditions. Whereas its impact on the landscape has been generally less than in the nearby Northumberland Coalfield and Northern Pennine Orefield, the legacy of mining and quarrying is conspicuous in several places. Mining has ceased, but quarrying continues to be an important part of the local economy, though modern planning constraints greatly reduce the industry’s most obvious visual impacts.
Whilst strict conditions and controls are applied to the approval and operation of all mineral operations in the UK, the special status of National Parks requires mineral planning applications to be subject to the most rigorous examination and operations to be planned and operated with particular sensitivity. A Minerals Local Plan provides the policy framework for the extraction of minerals in the Northumberland National Park and was adopted in 2000. This will, in due course, be replaced by a Local Development Framework.
The mode of occurrence of the rocks and minerals of the district, and their economic contribution to it, are described in earlier sections of this report. The following rocks and minerals are known to have been worked in the district:
- Ores of iron, lead, and zinc
- The non-metalliferous minerals witherite, barytes
- Limestone, sandstone, dolerite and other igneous rocks, coal, fireclay and brickclay, peat, sand and gravel
The contribution of mineral extraction to the geodiversity of the district is considered on following pages.