NEW 2012 SERIES: No 8
The way to read each entry is as follows:
Site Name, Location, Planning Authority, Position in the Planning System (either Scoping Inquiry, Application Submitted, Application Approved), the name of the Applicant / Operator and the size.
BIRKLANDS, (nr .Marley Hill, Gateshead), (Gateshead: Reference No DC/11/00687/MIN) (Application) (Hall Construction Services) (275,000) (34.8 hectares)
Last news 8/11/12
‘Opencast, the threat returns’ (local action group) (no date)
Not a news story, but an on line petition that can be signed to show opposition to open casting at this proposed 275,000 tonne site. See
You can read this application and still make comments here:
BRADLEY (nr. Consett) (Co Durham) (Judicial Review) (UK Coal) (500,000) (68 hectares)
No news on if and when the Judicial Review will begin. The Planning Inspectorate has yet to decide on whether it is to contest the Judicial Review.
DEANFIELD (West of New Sharlston, Wakefield) (Wakefield) (Scoping Inquiry) (UK Coal) (1.180,000 tonnes) (138 hectares)
‘Village fights against opencast mine plan’ (Wakefield Express, 4/12/12)
Over eighty people turn out to support a public meeting called by Stop Opencast In Sharlston to oppose UK Coal’s plan for a new opencast site. The item covers initial reactions to the scheme. See
DEARNE LEA, WEST CLAYTON (S.E. of Huddersfield) (Kirklees Council: Reference No. 2012/62/9113/ED) (Application) (George Harrison Ltd) (190,000) (18.8 hectares)
Last news 28/7/12
To contact the Skelmansthorpe Communituy Action Group see:
For more details on the Application and the possibility to make a comment go to:
FERNEYBEDS, WIDDRINGTON STATION (8 miles NW of Ashington) (Northumberland County Council) (Application) (Banks Group) (750,000) (95.6 hectares)
Last news 11/10/12
GEORGE FARM (nr. Smalley, Derbyshire) (Derbyshire County Council: Ref No. CM6/1110/112) (Application) (LEM Resources) (400,000) (35.2 hectares)
I was given a three minute opportunity to speak to our objection to this application at the Planning Control Meeting of Derbyshire County Council held on 3/12/12. The application was approved by a vote of 6-1, despite the local MPNigel Mills, asking for the application to be opposed.
‘Villagers fail to stop new Denby coal mine’ (Belper News, 4/12/12) &
‘New mine will cause road misery’ (Ilkeston Advertiser, 4/12/12)
Two brief reports on Derbyshire County Council’s decision and what some of the consequences are likely to be @
AS THIS MINE IS NOW APPROVED , REFERENCES TO IT WILL NO LONGER APPEAR ON THIS REVIEW.
HAGUE FARM (?) off Hague Lane nr Renishaw, Derbyshire (no estimate of size)
UK Coal has put this site up for sale. The particulars indicate that they are seeking a partner to help ‘develop’ (work the site as a surface mine) within 5 years. Site particulars are available here @
HALTON LEA GATE (c 5 miles SW of Haltwhistle) (Northumberland County Council) (Judicial Inquiry) (HM Developments) (140,000) (75 acres)
Last news 28/9/12
HILLTOP PROJECT (nr. Clay Cross, Derbyshire) (Derbyshire County Council) ( Scoping Inquiry) (Provectus Remediation) (130,000) (30 hectares)
Last news 5/9/12
Provectus Remediation have indicated that they are intending to submit a plan to mine 130,000 tonnes of coal from a 30 hectare site over a 30 month period.
To keep in touch with the protest campaign, go to
HOODSCLOSE Whittonstall (Northumberland County Council) (Application) (UK Coal) (500,000) (208 hectares)
UK Coal hopes to extract 2.2m tonnes of coal and 500,000 tonnes of fireclay over a seven year period. The Scoping Inquiry state began soon after August 2009 with an application following in 2010. This is still a live application.
‘Opencast fears for village school’ (Hexham Curant, 18/12/12) @
Short article reporting that Whittonstall First School has written to Northumberland County Council expressing concerns about the Hoosclose proposal at the same time as remaining neutral about the application. The school stands to gain from a £850,000 extension should the application be approved, something which the paper labels a ‘sweetener’
Public meeting to be held on Thursday January 17th (6-8pm) at St John's Church Hall, Snods Edge. (News from the Whittonstall Action Group Web Site)
Northumberland County Council will be chairing this meeting to listen to the community point of view before making their decision on this application. Please come and ask your questions and make your voice heard. Just being there will show you care.
You can find further information on the application and make a make a comment here:
You can also contact the Whittonstall Action Group here:
MARLEY HILL COLLIERY RECLAMATION (Sunnyside, Gateshead (Co Durham also affected), (Now an Application) (UK Coal) (1.067m) (118 hectares)
‘Plans for Marley Hill opencast mining spark fury in Sunnyside’ (Journal, 19/12/12) @
‘Marley Hill opencast coal mine bid goes to planners’ (Chronicle Live 19/12/12) @
News reports that UK Coal (?) have submitted an application to mine this site, on a site where, in the 1990’s applications were put in to mine 10m tonnes. People opposing the Birklands Lane proposal Michelle and Alan Finch also seem to be opposing this application. UK Coal spokesperson Simon Taylor, Director of UK Coal Surface Mining claims that this is the only way to stabilise 2 hectares of contaminants and restore the site for a variety of purposes, agricultural, new woodland, improved wildlife habitats and better access.
COMMENT: It seems that as a consequence of reorganising what was UK Coal into Coalfield Resources, and then dividing this company into two separate entities, Harworth Estates (who own the land) and UK Mine Holdings a new operating company has emerged, UK Surface Mining, which is a subsidiary of UK Mine Holdings. The crucial question is does UK Surface Mining own the site, or is that owned by Harworth Estates, with UK Surface Mining leasing the site from Harworth for the duration of working the site? If so, UK Surface Mining will be paying a rent to Harworth Estates that will near enough equal the profit to be made on extracting the coal, leaving UK Surface Mining with no asset base and the party liable for paying for any community benefits and restoration bond and the cost of restoring the site. The question is will it have sufficient resources to honour all of its commitments.
‘Plans submitted for coal mine clean-up’ (UK Surface Mine Coal, 181212) @
The Journal, it turns out has almost just repeated word for word the Company’s press release on this news plus a bit of extra on local reaction because of knowing people involved with Birklands. Read and compare.
MINORCA NORTH (Leicestershire, Leicestershire County Council, UK Coal, Amount of estimated coal reserves not published, Stage: Exploratory Drilling) (no estimate of size)
BBC Radio Leicester 4/12/12
The Minorca Surface mine was the lead story on BBC Radio Leicester’s morning news programme on Tuesday 4/12/12 with two news items. The first was the impact that working the mine was having on local residents, especially the intrusive level of noise experiences by some.
The 2nd news item was an on-air confession that UK Coal were to put in for a new application next year with the implication that this would entail not fully restoring the existing Minorca site.
SCHOOLHOUSE LANE off A692 nr Marley Hill , Co Durham
UK Coal has put this site up for sale. The particulars indicate that they are seeking a partner to help ‘develop’ (work the site as a surface mine) within 5 years. Site particulars are available here @
SHORTWOOD FARM (Trowell, nr Nottingham, (Nottinghamshire) (Application) (UK Coal) (1,275,000) ) (130 hectares)
UK Coal has applied to mine 1,275,000 tonnes of coal over a 5yr period on a Greenfield site.
Last news 16/11/12
To send a letter opposing this application, go to:
There is now a local group formed to oppose this application, the Shortwood Farm Opencast Opposition. It is contactable via soco..email@example.com
To find out more about the Application see:
NEWS OF SCOTTISH APPLICATIONS
NEW BENBAIN REMAINDER, CHALMERSTON SURFACE MINE COMPLEX, DALMELLINGTON (East Ayrshire, Application No 12/0093/PP) (Application) (Scottish Coal) (1,200,00 tonnes) (Total size of the site, 723 hectares of which 55 hectares ‘will be disturbed’ by this application.
Notice 26: (Issue 27182), Edinburg Gazette (7/12/12)
“Notice is hereby given that additional further information in relation to an Environmental Statement has been submitted to East Ayrshire Council by the Scottish Coal Company”
More details about this application can be seen here:
Thanks to Coal Action Scotland for informing me about this application.
CANONBIE SURFACE MINE? (Dumfries and Galloway?) (Exploratory Licence), (Buccleuch Group / Kier Minerals) (no estimate of size)
‘Green light for Coal Exploration’ (Hexham Courant, 22/11/12)
A public meeting held in Cannobie’s Public Hall, attended by 120 people, was told of Buccleuch Estates plans for an opencast mine in the Cannobe / Longtown area now that they have been granted an exploratory licence by the Coal Authority to carry out exploratory drilling on the site. It could mean 100 – 200 jobs if developing the project goes according to plan, with a planning submission in 2016 and work starting in 2017. However before that can occur, the coal seams will have to be degasified. Johathan Hiller for Keir Mining also said:
“ We are not entirely sure that a coal resource exists and that’s why we need to do the exploration work. We do not know if there is an economic coal resource there.”
Thanks go to Jo Holmes for sending me this article
‘Coal mine near Longtown could create up to 400 jobs and rail freight’ (News and Star, 3/12/12)
Four energy related news stories in the item
• New Age Exploration still intend to develop their Lochinver project, a deep mine on part of the Canonbie coalfield to exploit coking coal deposits. Indications are that the project could directly employ 300 people and create indirectly,another 100 jobs .
• It is intended to transport the coal via a new rail hub
• Elsewhere, on another part of the Canonbie coalfield Buccleuch Estates, in association with surface mine company Kier Holdings still intend to develop surface mine.
• Lastly, Dart Energy, through buying Green Park Energy, have a licence to drill for methane gas on the same coalfield. See
CAULDHALL, ROSEWELL (Midlothian) (Pre Scoping)(Scottish Coal) (10m tonnes) (495 hectare site)
Last news September 2012
NEW GALAWHISTLE (SPIRESBROOK EXTENSION),GLENBURN nr MULKIRK (East Ayrshire) (Application) (Scottish Coal) (3.500,000) (Total size of the site 725 hectares, but this application refers to 108 hectares)
For details of the Application see;
Thanks to Coal Action Scotland for this information
NEW HYNDSHAW FARM, CARLUKE (Sth. Lanarkshire)(stage not known) (A G Land Purchase) (36,000 tonnes)(size not known)
‘Hyndshaw Farm developer tries to allay dust emissions fears’
Agent Robin Callow in a letter to Carluke Community Council indicates that there will be no coal processing at the site, thus reducing the risk of dust. See
COMMENT: Dust is mainly caused other operators claim by the movement of heavy machinery around the site and wind blowing off coal dust from coal stockpiles (see UK Coals Surface mine site page for example) These has been another news item on this proposed development in which the coal is being removed for stabilisation purposes prior to building house on the site. For more info see
‘Coal extraction and housing planned for Hyndshaw Farm, Carluke’ (Carluke Gazette, 19/10/12) @
WELLSGREEN (Fife Council / Levenmouth Area Committee) (Application) (Hall Construction Services) (800,000)
NEWS ON WELSH APPLICATIONS
THE BRITISH IN TALYWAIN, (Torfaen) (Pre Scoping Inquiry)(HSBC ) (No public estimate of of coal reserves)
Last news 5/10/12
BRYN DEFAID, LWYDCOED (Rhondda Cynon Taf Council) (Scoping Inquiry) (Celtic Energy) (1.2m tonnes)
‘Action group set to fight opencast plan’ (Wales on Line / Cynon Valley Leader, 20/12/12) @
Local residents in Lwydcoed propose to fight an expected application from Celtic Energy to opencast on this site. The application is expected next year. The proposed site lies between the existing Tower Colliery and Ffos-y-Fran opencast site. Names of people who are concerned who are mentioned in the article: Cllr Christine Chapman and local resident John Lent.
NEW EAST PIT, BRYNAMAN (Neath Port Talbot County Council) (Oak Regeneration (Application) (tonnage unknown) (800 hectares of which 80 are currently operational)
‘When opencast mine closes, the site could become £40m tourism resort’ (Daily Post / Western Mail, 1/12/12)
Oak Developments plans for the development of the East Pit site have been submitted to Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council. Plans do involve extracting more coal before a Tourism Resort and a Country Park can be developed after 2018. See
‘40m five-star resort plan for the East Pit mine site’ (Wales on Line 1/12/12)
News item, on the same Oak Development proposal as the above news story which makes it clear that this is not the Margam Park site, which Oak Developments also propose to redevelop after more coal has been extracted (see below) See
COMMENT: Usual ‘carrot and stick’ approach which offers a much better future in exchange for a little pain now. What usually happens though, is that this rosy picture of the future is not always what is eventually built as it is dependent on a lot of other factors, especially concerning raising the money for the development and other partners who are willing to share the financial risks involved in developing the site.
NANT HELEN REMAINDER ( Onllyn, Neath-Port Talbot) (Powys Council) (Application) (Celtic Energy), (1.9m tonnes)
No recent news on this site
Surface miner Celtic Energy want to mine on this site for a further 4.5 years, on a site they have been working since 2002.
‘Our Proposals for the Nant Helen Remainder’ (Celtic Energy)
NANT LLESG, GWENT (Gwent) (Scoping Inquiry) (Miller Argent)
Last news 24/7/12
A local group, the Green Valleys Alliance has already been formed to oppose any application.
You can keep up with the campaign via their web site:
MARGAM PARC (PARK) SLIP EXTENSION (again) (Neath Port Talbot) (Pre Scoping Inquiry?) (Oak Developments) (1.5m tonnes)
A new residents group has come into being to oppose this development, the No More Opencast at Parc Slip / Margam Group, who have set up a Facebook type page here
However, I’ve no contact with this group as yet..
VARTEG (Torfaen Council), (Public Inquiry), (Glamorgan Power) (325,000 tonnes)
Last news 5/10/12
NEWS EXTRA: THE (ENGLISH) GROWTH AND INFRASTRUCTURE BILL
The link to the web page through which to follow progress on this Bill is here:
The Loose Anti Opencast Network (LAON) submitted two memoranda , which I wrote, to the Public Bill Committee examining this Bill. One, GIB 32 has already been published and is available here;
LAON’s Supplementary Evidence to the Growth and Infrastructure Public Bill Committee (GIB 57) was published on 10/12/12.
LAON submitted the two memoranda, the second after the Government further clarified what it meant by ‘Large Infrastructure Projects’ when it published it’s consultation document ‘Significant Infrastructure Planning, Extending the Regime to Business and Commercial Projects’ which can be accessed here:
This consultation document suggested that the provisions in Clause 21 could apply to all quarrying and mining applications over 100 hectares.
Clause 21 was debated by the Public Bill Committee on 4/12/12 during the 11th and 12th sittings of the Committee. During the debate, attention was drawn to the cross party support Andrew Bridgen’s Private Members Bill 500m Separation Zones Bill (or buffer zones had enjoyed. LAON’s memoranda were referred too on three occasions during the debate
Column No 410
“........Amendment 103 is more specific about the types of application we seek to exclude by adding that business and commercial projects should not include quarrying or surface mineral extraction, such as open-cast mining. Evidence submitted by the Loose Anti Opencast Mining Network shows that on the basis of current applications, the 100-hectare threshold set out in the consultation document would capture a third of open-cast mining applications currently in the public domain or under consideration. That is a huge proportion to be taken out of the control of the local authority and local people.
There is also a risk that applications close to the threshold would upsize in order to bypass local consultation. For example, the Ferneybeds application near Ashington is for an open-cast mine of 95.6 hectares. The developer might consider increasing the size of the site so as to avoid the local authority’s scrutiny of the application, which would enable a lot of the resistance in local communities to open-cast mining to be taken into account. That is worrying, because as the Loose Anti Opencast Mining Network states:
“The larger the site, the more sensitive is the issue of the impact that the site will have on the local communities and the more people it will affect.”
The issue is especially pertinent, given, as we will discuss in more detail later, the loss of primacy for the local plan under the system and the Minister’s refusal to consider national policy statements. That entirely undermines democratic accountability in the system, and drowns the voice of the affected community. It is therefore important that we exclude the practices that are likely to cause the most anger and distrust in the system and guarantee that applications will be decided by democratically elected people who understand local concerns. .......”
Later in the debate, when Nick Boles, the Planning Minister is replying to the debate this interchange occurs:
Column 420 Nick Boles speaking
......” We are genuinely consulting on such matters. We have heard and understood that there is a level of concern about the particular sub-category that is perhaps more acute than the concern about the other sub-categories. We shall not be deaf to that, but we are going through a consultation, and I do not want to pre-judge the balance of responses to it or our final decisions on it.
Nic Dakin: I welcome the Minister’s clear commitment to take the concerns forward, such as those in the memorandum submitted by the Loose Anti-Opencast Network. It is thorough in expressing its worries about the measure. The fact that the hon. Gentleman has made such a statement is helpful and positive.
Nick Boles: I thank the hon. Gentleman for recognising and understanding clearly what I was saying........”
The next stage in the Bill’s progress was the Report Stage and the Third Reading of the Bill on 17/12/12. This was a major, but truncated, debate in the House of Commons where any MP can propose an amendment.
The Bill passed the Report stage and the Third Reading on the same day without Clause 21, now Clause 23 in an amended version of the Bill, being debated. It has also completed its First Reading in the House of Lords on the 18/12/12. It is due for its Second Reading on 8/1/13.
Please remember to also respond to the Consultation Document ‘ Significant Infrastructure Planning, Extending the Regime to Business and Commercial Projects’ by January 6th 2013 . details of how to do this are contained in the document.
NEWS EXTRA: THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE OFFER TO RESCUE ATH RESOURCES
ATH Resources, an English firm with four operating opencast sites in Scotland has been forced into administration, However, the new investor into the firm, Better Capital, is trying to rescue the firm according to the news story below.
‘Firm ready to invest £15m in embattled miner ATH’ (Yorkshire Post, 7/12/12)
Better Capital wants to renegotiate the planning conditions and the amount of money for community benefits as part of a deal to save ATH.
“ BC chief executive Mark Aldridge said the administration was to “get control of the process” so there are “fewer parties”.
He said BC is trying to persuade local councils, landowners, the Coal Authority and environmental bodies to accept lower rewards and be “more flexible” on planning and restoration, in return for its investment in the business.”
COMMENT: It looks as if the choice is between mothballing 4 sites and leaving them in limbo until the price of coal improves, or lowering the costs of production by reducing the level of community benefits and changing the planning conditions in such a way that it becomes economic to work the sites. From the point of view of the Planning Authorities concerned, it’s probably a no-brainer. They will, I suspect, be interested in maintaining jobs and seeing the sites restored. I expect they will all lean over backwards to help ATH.
How the local communities interest in the Community Funds are to be represented in these discussions is not yet clear. There is another concern. That is, if planning conditions about levels of noise and dust pollution are relaxed or accepting a lower quality of site restoration or any other environmental safeguard, and the quality of the restoration are relaxed, this will set a precedent which other surface miners across Britain will be only too happy to follow.
It could be the start of a slippery slope that means that to remain competitive, the price of maintaining an opencast coal industry in the future, is more noise, more dust, more visual intrusion, speeded up traffic movements, working the sites for longer hours, less concern over preservation of sensitive ecological sites and a poorer quality of site restoration. That will be too high a price to pay.
ATH Resources own web site for the latest news can be accessed here:
NEWS EXTRA: HESLEY WOOD TIP, Chapeltown,Sheffield
‘Coal Tip Plans Meeting Called’ (The Star, 23.12.12) @
The plan by Recycle Coal to work the Hesley Wood Tip to recover 395,000 tonnes of coal from a tip next to a housing estate will be discussed at the West and North Housing and Planning Committee on 8/1/13. 5,000 people have signed a petition against the plans.
© Steve Leary