Council opposed to opencast mine bid

A sign reading 'No to coal' at the protest camp at Lodge House near Smalley, Derbyshire, where U.K. Coal plans to open a cast mine. Activists have been evicted from the site.'Since U.K. Coal gained its possession order on 18th July, activists have been arriving daily at the site and the occupied farmhouse has been a hive of activity: building an extensive tunnel network, tree-structures and suspended cargo nets. As bailiffs and police arrived on site, people where chained to barricades defending strategic parts of the property.

A sign reading 'No to coal' at the protest camp at Lodge House near Smalley, Derbyshire, where U.K. Coal plans to open a cast mine. Activists have been evicted from the site.'Since U.K. Coal gained its possession order on 18th July, activists have been arriving daily at the site and the occupied farmhouse has been a hive of activity: building an extensive tunnel network, tree-structures and suspended cargo nets. As bailiffs and police arrived on site, people where chained to barricades defending strategic parts of the property.

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A PLAN to extend an open cast mine in Smalley have taken a knock after Amber Valley Borough Council said it would be objecting to the scheme.

Proposals by UK Coal could see the current 300-acre site extended a further 192 acres north towards Heanor.

Amber Valley is one of a list of councils being consulted by minerals authority Derbyshire County Council, which will determine the plan.

It now joins Mapperley Parish Council as the second council to oppose the extension plan after its latest planning board committee voted unanimously against it.

Smalley borough councillor Kevin Parkinson, a planning board member who also sits on the county council, said: “The main points that were put forward were mainly to do with the extension coming much closer to people’s homes than the current operation. The people in Smalley and Mapperley would not be able to enjoy the comfort of their own gardens.”

He feared UK Coal may not be able to honour a planning agreement to restore the site once it had finished mining due to its £243m debt.

He is concerned nearby residents could be left with an eyesore at the site, based at Lodge House, in the village, if UK Coal could not restore the site.

However, a spokesperson for the company said it would honour its obligations to restore the site, adding: “There are mechanisms to ensure that the promises are kept and there is a restoration bond that is in place as part of a legal agreement.”

As part of the plans, the mining company is offering a £100,000 community fund, with around 40 donations having already been made to local organisations and parish projects so far. It says should the extension be approved, a further £75,000 would be made available during the mine’s operational life.

However a spokesperson from a Smalley action group opposed to the plans said this would not be enough.

He said: “This is not what we want, we don’t need a community fund.

“If UK Coal are granted planning consent house prices will go down in the area. That cost could run into the millions, it really could.

So far the plans, which were not opposed by Smalley Parish Council, have received 451 individual objections via Derbyshire County Council’s website.