LAON's November Review ofUK Opencast Mine Sites

Tagged as: climate_action environmentalism history
Neighbourhoods: and derbyshire leicestershire nottinghamshire

LAON's 7th Review has information that a decision about the George Farm site is to be made on Monday 3/12. In addition public consultation has started at two new sites, a 10m tonne site Cauldhall in Scotland and a 1.18m tonne site at Deanfield in Yorkshire. In addition the revew has information about an existing site, Blair House in Scotland which has just been left 'mothballed' as Scottish Coal found it uneconomic to continue to work the site. It also has information about new developments occuring with The Growth and Infrastructure Bill which, if the present proposal becomes law, would mean that a Coal Operator in England who was applying for permission for a site larger than 100 hectares (there are 4 such proposals in England at present) could as for it to be decided by a 'fast - track' public inquiry system and side step having to go to the Local Authority. 


NEW 2012 SERIES: No 7                                       NOVEMBER 2012

 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) and the name of the Applicant / Operator, Size of Site

BIRKLANDS LANE, (nr .Marley Hill, Gateshead), (Gateshead: Reference No DC/11/00687/MIN) (Application) (Hall Construction Services) (275,000) (34.8 hectares)

‘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

‘Birklands Lane: Why destroy what’s there when using coal for power generation purposes is becoming history? (Northern Indymedia / LAON, 8/11/12)

An objection to Hall Construction Services application for an Opencast Mine at the Birklands Lane site in Gateshead has now been submitted. The objection is based on a number of factors, the rate at which power stations are being closed or converted to burning biomass; that it is Government policy to encourage Power Generators to switch from burning coal to burning biomass; that the expected decline in the need for coal for power generation purposes is expected to drop by 34% by 2017 and how easy it is to ship any coal that is needed into the Port Tyne amongst other reason. The press release also draws attention to problems with the Growth and Infrastructure Bill now before Parliament. See

You can read this application and still make comments here:;jsessionid=DE0DA6F1C3739817D51414835242B0FC?action=firstPage


BRADLEY (nr. Consett) (Co Durham) (Judicial Review) (UK Coal) (500,000) (68 hectates)

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.


NEW DEANFIELD (West of New Sharlston, Wakefield) (Wakefield) (Scoping Inquiry) (UK Coal) (1.180,000 tonnes) (138 hectares)

(This was formally on previous lists as the HELL LANE site)


‘Deanfield, Continuing Yorkshire’s Proud Mining Traditions’ (UK Coal, November 2012) + Deanfield Surface Mine issue 1

UK Coal announces that consultations are underway for a new opencast site near Wakefield. You can read about it here:

COMMENT: Judging from the map you can click on when you visit the UK Coal web site, this is the site LAON had identified as Hell Lane in previous reviews. They plan to work the site for just over 4.5 years. See

‘Opencast mining will ruin our countryside’ (Yorkshire Post, 12/11/12)

Local people react adversely to the news that UK Coal are planning to dig up 1.18m tonnes of coal and 100,000 tonnes of fireclay at the Deanfield site. Cat Morgan of Sharleston has set up a local Facebook group to help organise opposition to the proposal. Contact for this is / opencastsharleston or you can email


‘Multi million pound coal mining row’ (Wakefield Express 14/11/12)

A repeat of the above story appeared in the Wakefield Express @

‘SOS call over new mine site’(Wakefield Press, 25/11/12)

News that a Public Meeting, organised by the Deputy Chairperson of Sharlston Parish Council is to held at Sharlston Rovers Rugby Club on Tuesday 27/11/12 to discuss UK Coal’s mining proposal prior to a another Public Exhibition that is to be held next week. An action group Stop Opencast at Sharlston has already been set up . See


SOS have now joined LAON


DEARNE LEA, WEST CLAYTON (S.E. of Huddersfield) (Kirklees Council: Reference No. 2012/62/9113/ED) (Application) (George Harrison Ltd) (190,000)N (18.8 hectares)

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   You  can find out more about this application here: Phased extraction by surface mining techniques of 752,000 tonnes of coal and 200,000 tones of fireclay and other minerals where viable. - Land South East Of Ferneybeds Farm Mile Road Widdrington Station Northumberland

Ref. No: 12/03138/CCMEIA | Received date: Wed 03 Oct 2012 | Status: Pending Consideration | Case Type: Planning Application


GEORGE FARM (nr. Smalley, Derbyshire) (Derbyshire County Council: Ref No. CM6/1110/112) (Application) (LEM Resources) (400,000) (35.2 hectares)

‘Objection to the George Farm Opencast Proposal’ (Nottingham Indymedia / LAON, 26/11/12)

A Press Release outlining the objection that LAON has submitted to this proposal @


‘Campaigners fight another opencast plan’ (Ilkeston Advertiser, 28/11/12)

Brief report on the setting of the determination date (see below) which mentions that LAON has put in an objection. See


‘Battling villagers face second opencast defeat’ (Derby Telegraph, 28/11/12)

This report, in some detail, carries the news that the Officer, Mr Stephenson is recommending approval

“In his report, Mr Stephenson acknowledged the application site was "very close" to several properties and that it would be "inevitable the occupiers would experience some disturbance from noise, dust and possibly vibration". He also said the development would harm the landscape.

But, in explaining why the plans should go ahead, he said: "There is an accepted national need for coal for the production of energy, and coal can only be extracted from where it is present in the ground.

"The universal landscape and visual impacts should not be regarded as an outright bar to such developments." See


LAON has now been informed (26/11/12) that the Determination Date for a decision on this site is Monday 3rd December at 2.00 pm at Derbyshire County Hall, Matlock

You can read the Officer’s Report to the Regulatory – Planning Committee of Derbyshire County Council, 5/12/12, Agenda Item 4.3 @


HAGUE FARM (?) off Hague Lane nr Renishaw, Derbyshire

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

HELL LANE, nr Normanton, Wakefield, W Yorkshire

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 @

This intention has now turned into a concrete possibility. See the Deanfield proposal above. Reference to Hell Lane will no longer be made after thisw issue.


HILLTOP PROJECT (nr. Clay Cross, Derbyshire) (Derbyshire County Council) ( Scoping Inquiry) (Provectus Remediation) (130,000) (30 hectares)

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.

Last news 5/9/12

To keep in touch with the protest campaign, go to


HOODSCLOSE  Whittonstall (Northumberland County Council) (Application) (UK Coal) (2,200,000) (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.

Last news 26/10/12

You can find further information and make a make a comment here:;jsessionid=2BC579DC2A201F65967E36E99DD92B3A?action=firstPage

You can also contact the Whittonstall Action Group here:


MARLEY HILL COLLIERY RECLAMATION  (Sunnyside, Gateshead (Co Durham also affected), (Scoping Enquiry) (UK Coal) (c1.0m) (118 hectares)

Last news 13/5/12


MINORCA NORTH (Leicestershire, Leicestershire County Council, UK Coal, Amount of estimated coal reserves not published, Stage: Exploratory Drilling)

‘Mining begins at opencast site’ (Leicester Mercury, 9/11/12)

A report on the fact that coaling has begun at the Minorca site. It also indicates the fears that local people have that UK Coal are planning to extend the site. See


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.

‘Shortwood Farm Opencast: Do We Need the Coal? (Nottingham Indymedia 16/11/12

A press release from the Loose Anti Opencast Network outlines the content of an objection to the proposed Shortwood Farm opencast mine that LAON have submitted @


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

To find out more about the Application see:




(Dumfries and Galloway?) (Exploratory Licence), (Buccleuch Group / Kier Minerals) (no estimate of size)

Last news on 5/10/12

NEW CAULDHALL, ROSEWELL (Midlothian) (Pre Scoping)(Scottish Coal) (10m tonnes) (495 hectare site)


‘Cauldhall Surface Mine’ (Scottish Resources Group, September 2012)

Scottish Resources Group has published details of their proposal for a 10m tonne site that will be worked for 12.5 years, if planning permission is gained. Details of the Scoping Report Enquiry and other documentation can be obtained here:


WELLS GREEN (Fife Council / Levenmouth Area Committee) (Application) (Hall Construction Services) (800,000)

It seems that in a letter to Fife Council on 22/10/12 the Scottish Government returned this application to Fife Council because a bat survey needed to be undertaken. See letter @

For other news about possible Scottish opencast sites see

Coal Action Scotland Targets Brochure March 2009 @



THE BRITISH IN TALYWAIN, (Torfaen) (Pre Scoping Inquiry)(HSBC ) (No public estimate of coal reserves)

Last news 5/10/12

BRYN DEFAID, LLWYDCOED  (Rhondda Cynon Taf Council) (Scoping Inquiry) (Celtic Energy) (1.2m tonnes)

Last news 25/10/12

NANT HELEN  REMAINDER  ( Onllyn, Neath- Port Talbot) (Powys Council) (Application) (Celtic Energy), (1.9m tonnes)

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) (9.0m tonnes)

Surface Miner Miller Argent have announced their intention to submit a planning application for a 9.0m tonne opencast site at Nant Llesg, This is a site near to Caerphilly and the infamous Ffos-y-Fran site.

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)

Last news 11/10/12

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 :BLAIR  HOUSE  (Scottish Coal) (Approved but now mothballed)

‘Mothballed mine sparks concern among villagers’ (Dunfirmline Press, 20/11/12)

Scottish Resources Group, owners of Scottish Coal mothball the Blair House site indefinitely because of low prices for coal, cost pressures and thinner than expected coal seams. The site will still be monitored and supervised. However

“ Villagers are unhappy that the enormous earth mounds will remain in place and concerned that the site will not eventually be returned to its original state.”

COMMENT: Another example of the impact that the low price of coal is having on the UK Coal industry. The communities which fought against this 720,00 ex UK Coal site are now left with a huge eyesore in their midst. Those groups facing planning applications might like to bring this to the attention of their Planning Case Officer and ask them what would the implication be if such an event happened on the site they are objecting to should it get planning permission. See

More local news on this can be found here:

‘Minewatch’ @

NEWS EXTRA : LAON’s 11th Press release cited in a news item

‘The  world is heading for a “carbon cliff” – PwC” (The Low Carbon Kid blog spot 5/11/12 and Link 2, 24/11/12)

This article includes quotes from our 11th press release and also publicises the 6th review of Opencast Sites. The news editor David Thorpe is a well known and respected environmental journalist / campaigner.

However, I have not spoken to him over this article and I’ve never said that the surplus coal would be exported. See


NEWS EXTRA: LAON’s Memorandum objecting to Clause 21 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill published by the House of Commons Growth and Infrastructure Public Bill Committee

LAON’s submission objecting to aspects of Clause 21 of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill was published on a Parliamentary Web page on 22/11/12. We expect this Clause to be debated by the Growth and Intfrastructure Public Bill Committee in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 4/12/12.See

On the 26/11/12 The Government published a consultation document in which they indicated that all mining and quarrying applications over 100 hectares could be treated as a ‘National Infrastructure Project’. In answer, LAON produced the following two documents

‘Wake up call to protect the Countryside from new Legislation’ LAON, PR 15, 28/11/12 @

and  our Briefing Note on this topic

Growth and Infrastructure Bill: Proposed 100 Hectare Threshold @


© Steve Leary 

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