Category Archives: News

Provectus have not given in

As we feared, Provectus do not see HM Planning Inspectorate’s decision to refuse planning permission as the end of this matter.

This evening they posted the following on our Have your say page:

Provectus PR
APRIL 16, 2018 AT 7:55 PM EDIT
Updates are provided at Provectus’ Hilltop Project website. The intent is to see what outcome the pending High Court action in May against DCC has and then we will consider options available to us. We are in no doubt that the way in which the Inspectorate gave weighting to possible noise impacts whilst choosing to ignore expert opinion was inappropriate.

The update on their website is:

Appeal Decision Update
Provectus is naturally disappointed at the negative outcome from the Planning Inspectorate.
Notwithstanding this, we have sought high level legal advice to the effect that there are serious errors in the Inspector’s ruling. This is particularly with respect to her findings on noise impact – which ignored the experts opinions before her – and which gives us very firm grounds to mount a challenge.
At present, we have decided not to take this route but rather to consider other options.
Provectus have taken High Court proceedings against DCC in regard to the return of the original planning fee in the context of their failure to process the application in accordance with statutory time limits. Those proceedings will be heard in High Court in London and resolved next month . Once the ruling is made we will decide how best to proceed.
It is a great shame that DCC failed to deal with the application expeditiously in the first instance, and that HAG failed to adopt a more pragmatic approach. Had they done so and had the project proceeded then it would be done and dusted by now, the process of restoration would be well advanced and the uncertainties which have troubled local residents would have vanished. The young people of Holmgate would be enjoying a MUGA funded by the project.

So it appears that they are mounting one or more legal challenges in the High Court and we must endure further uncertainty about the future of the Hilltop site.

We will keep you informed once we know more.


Planning permission refused

The decision of HM Planning Inspectorate has been announced today (Monday 5 March 2018)


The appeal is dismissed and planning permission is refused for a surface coal mining scheme with restoration to agriculture with nature conservation benefits.


You can read the full report from H.M. Planning Inspectorate here.

Once we have had a chance consider the Inspectors report in detail we will provide more information.

It has been a long 6 year battle but well worth it.

DCC supports refusal of planning permission

At today’s Regulatory Planning Committee members voted unanimously to accept the Planning Officers report and it’s recommendation to refuse Planning permission.

There was also a vote on the Head of Plannings recommendation for a full public enquiry for the appeal to be heard by HM Planning Inspectorate. This was also passed unanimously.

It was noted that, although Provectus attended the meeting, they chose not to speak in support of their application.

We must now wait for HM Planning Inspectorate to announce the date and format of the Planning appeal.

We’ll let you know as soon as we find out anything.

Planning Department Report Published

The Report of the Strategic Director – Economy, Transport and Communities was published on the Derbyshire County Council website this morning.

[Click here to read the full report]

We have had a quick read through it and make the following comments:

  • The report strongly recommends REFUSAL of planning permission
  • Most of the objections raised by Hilltop Action Group and local residents are upheld by the Strategic Director’s report.
  • The report will be presented to the Regulatory Planning Committee at 10am on Friday 17 March 2017 in the Council Chamber, County Hall, Matlock.
  • The following extracts from the report explain what will now happen:

Purpose of Report (Page 2)

To enable the Committee, on behalf of the County Council as Mineral Planning Authority (MPA), to express a view concerning the application, which may be referred to in submissions for the appeal application which the applicant has made under Section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 against non-determination of the application.

Appeal Submission (Page 8)

In December 2016, the applicant, on the basis that the application had not been determined within the time allowed for under regulations, made an appeal submission to the Planning Inspectorate with a statement of case and supporting documents.

In a subsequent letter on behalf of the Council to the Inspectorate, the Inspectorate was asked to consider whether any appeal should proceed, since officers believed that, as a consequence of its October 2016 request for further information and Regulation 22, the Council at the time of the submission was unable to reach a determination of the application. However, a message of 3 March 2017 from the Inspectorate has indicated that the applicant does have a right to appeal at this time.

Consequently the the committee will not be making a final decision at this meeting. This will be determined by HM Planning Inspectorate at some future date.

More documents, more consultation!

Determination meeting some way off yet

During the last few months the Planning Authority have requested further information from Provectus and whilst waiting for them to respond progress stalled.

Provectus recently responded and the Planning Authority have now put up site notices announcing a further 3 week consultation period (ending 2 September 2016).

The request for further information covered:

  • matters relating to the need for the development with respects to the current market need for coal extraction and also the potential impacts that coal extraction may have in relation to attracting inward investment into Clay Cross and the subsequent delivery of the Clay Cross Regeneration Framework.
  • a Regulation 22 request covering matters relating to Flood Risk and potential impacts on Network Rail’s Assets.

The following are links to the new documents recently submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd:

Application Document Supp 2016 07 28 Reg 22 Response

Application Document sup 2016 07 01 Hilltop Farm FRA Final Report

Application Document sup 2016 07 27 Further Info Letter 02 CM4-1215-125

Application Document sup 2016 06 29 Regeneration Response v2 02 CM4-1215-125

Application Document sup 2016 07 26 Network Rail – cons response CM4-1215-125

Hilltop Action Group will be submitting comments on these new documents in the next few weeks.

Clay Cross regeneration at risk

A very good article in this weeks Derbyshire Times by Councillor Ted Mansbridge, chair of Clay Cross Parish Council’s planning and environmental working group.

He warns that regeneration work in Clay Cross is being threatened by the bid for opencast coal mining on the Hilltop site.

Bryn Hopkinson, Provectus’s project co-ordinator for the Hilltop development, trots out his usual nonsense about how there cannot possibly be any negative environmental impacts to harm local residents and the fantastic community benefits.
Read more: Derbyshire Times article

We still don’t know when the Planning Meeting will be, but Monday 9 May still seems very likely. We should find out on either Friday 29 April or Tuesday 3 May. We’ll let you know either way as soon as we’re sure.

Latest news

No decision this month

The April DCC Planning Committee Meeting has now passed and the Hilltop application was not dealt with. As the application should be dealt with within 16 weeks, the next meeting on Monday 9 May 2016 seems the likely date for a decision.

More problems for Provectus

An objection has been submitted on behalf of the owners of the Incomol yard. Provectus say in their application that this will be their access to the site – off the new roundabout being installed by St Modwen. The objection says that no consultation has taken place between the site’s owner and Provectus regarding this access and they see no reason to agree to such a proposal.

The letter states ‘…it is my client’s opinion that certain detail contained in the Application,  … , could be misleading to the Planning Authority and may not be a deliverable part of the proposed project.’

It looks as though the are going to have problems getting on and off the site!

The DCC Flood Risk Management Team have also raised a number of concerns about the scheme including:

    • an ongoing flooding issue located in the northern part of the proposed development boundary
    • the watercourse (that we identified) located in the centre of the site that has been ignored by Provectus despite it running through the proposed coal processing area.

As soon as we know whether the Hilltop Application is on the agenda for the next meeting we will announce it on this website. At that time we will also have seen the Planning Officers report and will know what their recommendations are.




Objections to new application

We have now submitted a summary of all our objections to the new Provectus Remediation Ltd planning application (CM4/1215/125).

Click here to read the document (very large file – 91 pages)
or here to read the short version (without appendices).

The official closing date for the submission of objections is Friday 4 March 2016, but if you still wish to send in you own objection they will be accepted until 3 days before the application goes before the DCC Planning Committee for a decision.

Provectus put out a statement on their website on 9 February 2016 stating  “…it is hoped that the application will proceed rapidly to determination.

We think that this will happen at the 11 April (or possibly 9 May) planning meeting.

New planning application submitted

You may have thought that, because everything had gone very quiet in the last few months, nothing more was going to be heard of Provectus and their opencast mining plans.

I’m afraid you were wrong, Provectus Remediation Ltd have at last got around to submitting their revised application.

Back in September it was announced that they were withdrawing their application because of a procedural defect but would immediately re-submit it in essentially the same form, save for the corrected notices and technical updates. (See previous post)

It’s taken them nearly five months to get around to it!

The new application has now been validated and the documents are available on the DCC Planning website (application code: CM4/1215/125).

The Planning Authority are expected to commence a 21 day consultation exercise in the near future (notices will appear on local telegraph poles).

We will be carefully analysing the new application documents in the next few days to see if there are any substantial changes and will then decide whether we need to submit any new objections.

Hopefully the application will now move quickly to being presented to the Planning Committee and a decision finally made.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Application Withdrawn…

…but to be resubmitted straight away!

We recently submitted what we thought were our final objections anticipating that the application would soon be going before the Planning Committee for a decision.

How wrong we were!

On Thursday 3 September Provectus Remediation Ltd announced that they were withdrawing their application because of a procedural defect but would immediately re-submit it in essentially the same form, save for the corrected notices and technical updates.

So we’re nearly back to square one!

We have been assured by the DCC Planning Department that all the objections sent in by Hilltop Action Group and hundreds of local residents will be carried forward to the new application. We do not need to resubmit them.

Provectus Remediation Ltd have been instructed to make clear any significant changes in their resubmitted documents. We will still need to check them carefully.

Once the new application is in, DCC Planning Department will have to go through another publicity and consultation exercise.

The assessment of the application should be carried out within 13 weeks so the December Planning Committee Meeting looks likely.

This all looks like another example of incompetence on the part of Provectus Remediation Ltd.

Article 11 of the Town and Country Planning [Development Management Procedure] [England] Order 2010 requires that  ‘an applicant for planning permission shall give requisite notice of the application to any person (other than the applicant) who on the prescribed date is an owner of the land to which the application relates, or a tenant‘.

In their statement they say that for reasons beyond the control of Provectus some of the notices … had not been served.

Yet the regulations clearly state it is the obligation of the applicant to serve the notices.  If they weren’t served it was because they didn’t do it – they can’t try to put the blame on someone else.

How many more things can they get wrong?

  • Licence for exploratory drilling obtained retrospectively
  • Mineral Application Form incorrectly and misleadingly filled in
  • Out-of-date cross-section diagrams submitted
  • Ignoring the watercourse that runs through the middle of the proposed coal processing area
  • etc, etc

We’ll let you know when the new application is in and whether there appear to be any significant changes to their proposals.

Petition Presentation

Protest-Presentation webSupporters of Hilltop Action Group today met at Derbyshire County Council Offices in Matlock to present a petition to the Council.

Norman Humprhys organised a team of volunteers at the end of 2014 to canvass all the houses within 1km of the proposed Hilltop Opencast site. They did a sterling job in often terrible weather and collected over 1600 signatures – very few refused to sign.

Cllr Dean Collins ((Highways, Transport and Infrastructure) met us on the front steps to receive the petition from Norman.


This petition, along with well over 200 letters of objection already submitted by local residents to the planning authority, demonstrates the strength of local opposition to the proposed scheme.

We are still waiting to hear when the application will be put before the planning committee for a decision, but anticipate it will be sometime this autumn.

Planning Committee meetings are scheduled for:

  • Monday 7 September
  • Monday 5 October
  • Monday 9 November

The committee are likely to make a site visit in the morning with the formal meeting in the afternoon at Derbyshire County Council offices in Matlock.

We will probably only get a few days notice of the meeting so will have to move quickly to get everyone organised. A representative sample of objectors will be invited to address the meeting (three minutes each).

We want as many as possible to attend the meeting so that councillors on the Planning Committee are aware of the strength of local opposition when they make their decision.

Make a note of these dates and try to keep them free so that you can be there.


More objections submitted by Hilltop Action Group

The Hilltop Action Group committee have submitted two more objections to Derbyshire County Council today.

15  Regulation 22 Documents

A statement that the documents recently submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd merely rectify some of the many errors, omissions and discrepancies Hilltop Action Group identified in the original submission of October 2014. There have been no material changes to the proposal. Hence, all objections previously submitted by Hilltop Action Group are still relevant.

Click here to read the full document

16 Community Benefits

Discussion of the proposed community Benefits and a statement that the proposal provides no local or community benefits which could possibly outweigh the likely impacts to justify the grant of planning permission.

Click here to read the full document

Revised documents submitted by Provectus

Provectus Remediation Ltd submitted new documents to the Mineral Planning Authority on 15 May 2015. This was in response to the request made by the planners back in January. These had originally been expected by the end of March but, as usual, Provectus were dilatory in responding.

The new documents can be seen on the planning website.

We now expect Derbyshire County Council to run another consultation exercise to allow the submission of new objections and comments (the details should appear on notices on local telegraph poles).

Hilltop Action Group have looked carefully at the documents and can find nothing which substantially changes the application. They merely rectify some of the many errors, omissions and discrepancies in the original submission.

Most of the concerns and objections raised by Hilltop Action Group and others have not been addressed.

  • noise levels predicted to be above the recommended maximum of background + 10dBA
  • health concerns due to dust
  • site safety
  • visual impact
  • slope stability due to old mine workings and proximity to A61
  • hydrological impact – residential properties on eastern fringe of site on strata above coal seams and therefore affected by groundwater drawdown
  • unprecedented proximity of so many residential properties, care homes, schools, nurseries, community facilities to the site

Hence all previously submitted objections are still relevant.

Hilltop Action Group will be submitting further objections in the near future.

If you have not yet submitted your objection, now is the time to do it.

If you have already submitted an objection, you might consider sending in a new submission stating the as the application has not materially changed you previous objection stands.

Site notices have now appeared on some telegraph poles. Information not very clear but it appears that the new consultation period runs until Thursday 25 June 2015.

Further Delays

We have been informed that in January the Derbyshire County Council Planning Authority formally requested further and additional information about the proposal from the applicant in relation to the following main topic areas:

  • Landscape and Visual Impact
  • Ecology
  • Flood Risk
  • Archaeology
  • Restoration
  • Highway Access
  • Services

The request for further information took into account the comments made by consultees and the letters of representation that have been received.

The Planning Authority is currently waiting for Provectus Remediation Ltd to submit this new information. It is anticipated that it will be received by the end of March 2015.

Once they have received the information Derbyshire County Council (the Mineral Planning Authority) will carry out a further consultation/publicity exercise and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment further on the application.

No date has yet been set for the determination of this application so it would appear that we will have to wait a few more months before we know the outcome of the Hilltop Application.

Hilltop Action Group will carefully review any new information submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd and then make further representations to the Mineral Planning Authority as necessary.

(Derbyshire County Council accept representations outside the formal publicity period, but urge that  correspondence is submitted as soon as possible so that it can be properly reflected in the evaluation of applications.)

Good News

Some Good News

We are not the only group in the country fighting opencast mining plans. In the last few weeks we have heard of two sites that are not going ahead:

  • The Liquidators of UK Coal Surface Mining have now informed Staffordshire County Council that they are withdrawing their application to opencast on the Great Oak site near Bignall End
  • A victory against the Marley Hill surface mine proposal (on the Gateshead / Co Durham boundary). Gateshead originally approved the application, but Co Durham refused permission and the Durham Case Officer says that there is not going to be an appeal.

Not all developers manage to get their applications passed so there is hope for us yet.

The February Derbyshire County Council Planning meeting has now been and gone and the Hilltop Farm scheme was not on the agenda. The next scheduled planning meeting is on Monday 9 March so we’ll wait to hear if it makes that one.


On Thursday 29 January 2015 there was a debate in the House of Commons about the restoration of open-cast coal sites. Our local MP made an impassioned contribution, citing the mess left behind by Maximus on the old Biwater site.

The full transcript of her speech is given below. (Taken from Hansard, the official record of House of Commons Debates)

Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): I hope to speak for much less than six minutes, because I have only one and a half examples to cite, although I want to ask the Minister some very specific questions about them.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon) for initiating the debate, because it is very important. It concerns a legacy in coalfield areas that already contain some of the most deprived communities in the country. To be hit again after all these years makes things even worse for those communities.

I want to talk about a 204-acre site near Clay Cross, which was very toxic. An exciting plan was submitted by a company called Maximus, which proposed not just to restore the site, but to excavate the coal and build 1,000 new homes, as well as sports fields and changing rooms for which there was a large amount of section 106 money. People were very excited because there would be plenty of affordable homes. However, after the coal had been extracted, not 1,000 but 100 very high-end houses were built and sold for a great deal of money, and then the company went into voluntary administration. About 200 of the 204 acres are still uncapped, and the site is an enormous eyesore. Grey shingle has just been left on the ground, and, because the site is very high up, it is very visible from every angle.

To add insult to injury, the company—under a different name, Provectus—moved a mere few metres down the road to the neighbouring village of Tupton, and submitted another planning application for a very similar development. It will take ages for that application to be put together. The local residents, all of whom live very close to the site, are aware of it. Derbyshire county council is in a terrible bind, because it is having to spend a lot of time and money on offices and lawyers. The company itself is much wealthier than the residents. Meanwhile, house prices have dropped, people cannot move, and they are very worried about an increase in traffic. There is a 2,000-pupil secondary school right on the doorstep. People are very worried about this. Once the planning application goes to the county council, even if it overturns it the applicants will appeal, and it will go to the national Planning Inspectorate and the chances are that it will be overturned.

That would disregard the feelings of local people, and it does not take into account what these people have done only metres down the road. I want to know from the Minister what can be done to stop these people, who can only be called cowboys. They are going to do exactly what they have done in Clay Cross in Tupton. This is a big issue for local residents, and they are really worried about it.

As the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith) just said, we are looking at other sites beyond our borders and seeing what is happening there. It is very alarming to hear what is happening in Wales, and this pattern is being replicated up and down the country. The worst thing about it is that it is the people who are living on the doorstep who are having to suffer all the air pollution, the lorry-loads and everything else. And who ends up paying for capping off those open-cast sites? It is the local taxpayers. I would therefore like to know what the Minister is planning to do about this.

(Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v3.0.)

Public Meetings

The two public meetings on Friday and Saturday were well supported by local residents who came along to find out how they could submit their own objections to the Hilltop Opencasting Scheme.

Local Parish, District and County Councillors expressed their unreserved opposition to the proposals and support for the Hilltop Action Group campaign.

Natascha Engel (MP for NE Derbyshire) has expressed her support for our campaign. She is holding a meeting on Wednesday 19 November 2014 at 7.30pm in Clay Cross Social Centre to tell us why she is against the proposals.

Come along to listen to what she has to say. Hilltop Action Group will be there to give an update on the campaign

Objection – Who will be affected?

We have just submitted another objection.

Nowhere in the application documents does Provectus Remediation Ltd make reference to the size of the local communities that will be affected by their proposal.

We have carried out a careful analysis of the number of residential properties, community facilities and retail/commercial properties within 200m, 500m and 1km of the site.

The results are frightening and show the true scale of the impact that the Provectus Remediation Ltd proposals to opencast the Hilltop site will have on local communities.

You can read the full details of the objection here or by selecting it in the Objections menu.

Don’t forget to use the Have your say page to leave your comments