UK Coal gets public inquiry after Wakefield mine plans rejected

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett

UK Coal has successfully applied for a public inquiry to be held over its failed bid to seal planning permission for a new opencast mine at New Sharlston near Wakefield.

Campaigners against the scheme have vowed to continue their fight against the company’s plans to mine 1.16m tonnes of coal and up to 100,000 tonnes of fireclay on land between Crofton, Heath, Warmfield and New Sharlston.

Members of Wakefield Council’s planning board rejected UK Coal’s application for the mine at a meeting earlier this year, despite council officers recommending the scheme for approval.

Now UK Coal has successfully applied to Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, for a public enquiry to be held. It is expected to take place early next year.

Objectors are worried about the impact the scheme would have on health, and say it is ‘too much, too soon’ after the Sharlston Colliery reclamation.

George Balaam, of Sharlston Parish Council and Stop Opencast at Sharlston, said: “This is 138 hectares of beautiful farming land that they are proposing to dig up, it’s a beauty spot.

“UK Coal will have to fight very hard because there’s a lot of opposition to these plans.”

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said: “Nobody in the area wants this, they have had enough open casting. It means more disruption more dust and more problems with transport.

“Wakefield Council made their decision and as far as I’m concerned that should be it.

“UK Coal has applied to the Secretary of State Eric Pickles and he has ordered an inquiry into it.

“They (UK Coal) are meant to be winding down. What is all really about? If they really want to burn coal then why are their deep coal mines under threat? I suspect they have got nice little earner, which they can sell on and make some money out of it. This opencast mine, if it goes through, could be operated by another company and we have no idea who that might be, if it is sold on by UK Coal.”

Neil Rodgers, service director for planning, transportation and highways at Wakefield Council, said: “We can confirm a public inquiry has been lodged by UK Coal which has been accepted by an independent planning inspector.

All interested parties have been Informed, and we are following the relevant processes. Anybody who wishes to comment on these plans should contact the national planning portal directly before Friday 11th December 2014.”

A UK Coal spokeswoman said: “At this moment in time we have nothing to add.”