Category Archives: Update

Public Inquiry decision delay

In the last post we said the H.M. Planning Inspectorate decision was due on Monday 12 February.

They have now moved the date back to Monday 5 March 2018.

I’m afraid we have got to wait another three weeks before we know the outcome of the Public Inquiry.

As soon as we know anything we will announce it here.



Public Inquiry now closed

The Public Inquiry by HM Planning Inspectorate into the Hilltop Opencast Mining proposal by Provectus Remediation Ltd ended on Thursday 7 December 2017.

The Inspector has now gone away to write her report and make her decision about whether planning permission should be granted.

H.M. Planning Inspectorate have said the decision will be issued on or before Monday 12 February 2018

Hilltop Action Group would like to thank all those who attended the Public Inquiry and took the opportunity to speak against the plans.


  • Lee Rowley – MP for NE Derbyshire
  • Ted Mansbridge – Clay Cross Parish Councillor
  • George Stevenson – Kenning Park Community Group
  • Anne Harris – Coal Action Network

Many local residents were in attendance throughout the 7 days the Inquiry was in session. They were able put their concerns to HM Inspector and to ask searching questions of the appellant’s expert witnesses and planning consultant after they had given their evidence and been cross examined.


Autumn 2017 Update

The Public Inquiry

The Public Inquiry into the Hilltop Opencast Application is now only a few weeks away. The dates and venue have now been fixed.

10am Tuesday 28 November 2017
Donut Creative Arts Studio
Springbank Road, Chesterfield, S40 1NL
(Estimated number of sitting days: 10)

We understand that the Inspector is prepared to grant time for local residents to address the Inquiry – possibly on the first day. More details about this once we have confirmation.

The Appeal Reference is APP/U1050/W/16/3166227

New Documents from Provectus

Provectus Remediation Ltd has recently provided additional information that was requested by the Planning Inspectorate under Regulation 22 of the Environmental Impact Assessment regulations 201. They have also voluntarily submitted a new landscape and visual impact assessment and a greenhouse gas statement. These new documents are on the Derbyshire County Council website. (Links to documents below)

Anyone who wishes to make representations about this information should do so in writing before 19 October 2017, to Derbyshire County Council, or by use of the facility on the County Councils Website ( or by email addressed to:

All representations received will be forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate.

Hilltop Action Group are preparing a response which we will publish on this website once it has been submitted to DCC.

Links to documents recently submitted by Provectus


Planning Inquiry date announced

The date for the Planning Inquiry into the Hilltop Opencast Scheme has been announced by HM Planning Inspectorate.

The Public Inquiry will commence on Tuesday 28 November 2017 .

It is scheduled to take 10 days (not including weekends and not normally Mondays) so this means the last day of the inquiry will probably be Wednesday 13 December.

The venue has not yet been announced but we understand it will be local – probably Chesterfield.

Details of the Inquiry can be found here on HM Planning Inspectorate’s website.

Reality Check

It appears that Provectus might be loosing their grip on reality. A number of assertions were made in the statement published on their website on Sunday 5 March 2017.

The reality is:

  1. The site meeting by members of the Planning Committee took place today. Representatives of Hilltop Action Group and local residents attended. Provectus and the landowners chose not to attend.
  2. The report and recommendations of the DCC Planning Officers will be published later this week.
  3. The report will be considered by the Planning Committee on 17 March 2017.
  4. There is nothing on H.M. Planning Inspectorate website to indicate that an appeal has been lodged and accepted by Provectus Remediation Ltd.

Once the Planning Officers’ report and recommendations have been published and we have had the chance to digest we will publish a summary here.

What is going on?

Whatever we thought was happening probably isn’t!

At 8pm today Steve Langford, of Provectus Remediation Ltd, posted a comment on our ‘Have your say‘ page stating that they had placed a new statement on their website (the first since February 2016!).

It states that the Hilltop Planning application is now going to be dealt with by H.M. Planning Inspectorate rather than Derbyshire County Council.

You can read the Provectus statement here –  spend a few minutes reading it and you’ll be just as clear as us about what is happening!

As this has appeared on Sunday evening there is not much we can do to find out what is going on. Is tomorrows site meeting still going to happen?

So far the Provectus appeal has not appeared on the Planning Inspectorate website so we have no idea what format the hearing will take or the time scale.

As soon as we find out more we’ll let you know.


Things are moving at last

It’s been a long time since we last posted on the website because there had been nothing to report. Now, everything seems to be happening at once.

Another round of consultation

In the last few days the Planning Authority have put notices up on local telegraph poles announcing a further  consultation period until 16 March 2017. [Click here to see a copy of the notice]

Regulation 22 is the mechanism used to request further information from the applicant when there are shortcomings in the Environmental Impact Assessment. This has to be followed by a statutory 21 day consultation period.

There appears to be only one document submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd recently in response to this request – Application Document Flood Risk clarification.

This is a brief two page document plus a photograph. Interestingly, the document is watermarked ‘Draft’, unsigned on unheaded paper with no corporate heading, contact details or date. Hardly a professional looking document!

Council’s Regulatory Planning Committee

Letters have also been sent out to everyone who has sent in objection to the planning application informing them that the application is to be put to  a meeting of the Regulatory Planning Committee for consideration on Friday 17 March 2017 (this is immediately after the consultation period).

[If you have not received a letter, click here to see a copy of it]

The letter gives details of what to do if you wish to speak at this meeting.

[A document ‘Procedure for Public Participation at Meetings of the Regulatory Planning and Control Committee‘ has been provided by DCC to give further guidance.]

The letter also give notice of a site visit by committee members on Monday 6 March 2017.

In the next couple of weeks Hilltop Action Group will be

  • submitting what we hope will be our last objection to this planning application before 16 March 2017
  • attending the site visit on 6 March 2017
  • co-ordinating speakers for the 17 March meeting

August 2016 Response

We have now sent, to the Planning Authority, our response to the documents recently submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd.

There is still time for you to send in your own objections (click here for guidance) or leave a comment by using the Have your say page.

Full text of the Hilltop Action Group response:

Response to documents and information submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd in July 2016

What is the real purpose of the Hilltop Scheme?

The arguments in the recent Consultation Response from Provectus Remediation Ltd are both muddled and inconsistent.

On the one hand, the applicant argues that the site will be solely restored to a mix of arable and grassland agricultural land with ecological enhancements.

This is followed by a discussion of potential housing development and the need to avoid sterilising coal reserves.

Are we at last seeing Provectus Remediation Ltd in its true colours?

Is the real reason for the opencast scheme to pave the way for housing development rather than the improvement of agricultural land?

If so this application has been a deceit from the start.

The very description of the scheme -‘Surface coal mining scheme with restoration to agriculture with nature conservation benefits’ – is a lie. It should be ‘Surface coal mining scheme to extract coal reserves prior to housing development’.

This would mean that the restoration plan submitted in the application is at the very least misleading. It states that the ground contours will be restored to a level some 2m above existing levels. This implies minimal compaction of the overburden as it is reinstated and the resultant long term settlement of the ground. This would be adequate for agricultural use but would preclude any building for many years.

They can’t have it both ways.

Furthermore, this threat of housing development is a blatant attempt at scaremongering.

The applicant identifies two areas that are included in the North East Derbyshire Local Plan 2011-2031 (Schedule of Potential Housing Sites).

The one adjacent to Hilltop Farm is site CX/1608 with the potential for 359 houses. There is a requirement for 521 dwellings in the Clay Cross area and sites for 1990 dwellings have been put forward. Hence only 1/4 of those put forward will be required. As CX/1608 lies wholly within the Recommended Local Settlement Gap, it has a very low chance of ever being granted planning permission.

The sites to the south of the proposed opencast site (CX/1604, CX/1605, CX/1606, CX/1609) are a red herring as they lie totally outside the boundary of this application and are therefore of no relevance.

Need and market for coal

No indication is given of the quantities of each size of coal likely to be produced.

Market for the 0-30mm coal seems doubtful at best – what happens to this coal if there is no buyer in the energy sector?

Does suppling coal to the steam train market really justify the disruption of the lives of the thousands of residents living within 1km of the Hilltop site?

Domestic Market

The next thing they will be suggesting is packaging the coal in small plastic bags and selling it from vending machines alongside the milk and cream at the farm gate.

Regeneration and economic development

This whole section is nothing but conjecture and the opinions of the applicant. There is nothing in the way of hard evidence.

They state:

To add credence to the above, Inspectors considering surface coal mine schemes at Appeal have acknowledged the positive contribution that surface coal mine schemes make to the local economy.

This makes a very large assumption about the relevance of historical appeal decisions by the Planning Inspectorate. In recent years the climate (in all senses – political, economic, climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions) has changed.

Would those Inspectors make the same pronouncements today?

The applicant does not cite the actual appeals, but it is unlikely that they involved comparable schemes. The Hilltop proposal is relatively minor in terms of the amount of coal it could produce but it will disrupt the lives of many thousands of people living in close proximity to the site. Most opencast sites were much larger, with their output of far greater economic importance, yet directly impacted on far fewer people.

The applicant goes on to say:

Therefore, the positive economic benefits that will be delivered by the proposed scheme are evident and have been made clear by both National Planning Policy and by a number of Planning Inspectors.

At best the National Planning Policy says that positive economic benefits MAY arise from such a scheme. It certainly does not say that the Hilltop scheme will result in such benefits.

To date, we are not aware that Planning Inspectors have been in any way involved in this application, so it is disingenuous to say that a number of them have made it clear that the Hilltop scheme would have positive economic benefits.

We would urge the Planning Committee to give far greater credence to the concerns of those with local knowledge and the responsibility for bring the Clay Cross Regeneration Scheme to fruition -North East Derbyshire District Council, Clay Cross Parish Council and St Modwen (developers of the Biwater Site).

Dewatering aspects of the scheme

We note that Network Rail continues to express concerns about consequences of dewatering old mine workings. Their concern is the stability of Clay Cross Tunnel.

We raised similar concerns in our objection to the original application CM4/1014/79 ‘Geological and Hydrogeological Issues’ of December 2014.

The full extent and state of these old pillar and stall excavations have not been investigated by the applicant. It must therefore be considered that they extend beyond the western boundary of the site and will drain into the excavations. This will cause further drawdown of groundwater and lowering of the water table.
Properties to the west of the site are built on clay soils which are susceptible to swelling and shrinkage. Changes to the water table will have a disastrous impact on foundations – a number of properties in the area have had to undergo underpinning work in the past.
The fact that the applicant has dismissed the hydrological impacts of deep excavations on surrounding properties are grounds to refuse this planning application.

This was reiterated in our objection to the current application in March 2016.

Provectus Remediation Ltd have assiduously ignored this valid concern of local residents as well as that of Network Rail. Local residents would also expect an Asset Protection Agreement.

Flood Risk Assessment

Provectus Remediation Ltd and their Flood Risk Assessment consultants (AECOM) were requested to provide further information under Regulation 22 of the Town And Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 which takes ‘account of the new anecdotal evidence and the data held by the County Council.

The revised FRA states:

Through ongoing consultation in the area, DCC received anecdotal evidence that suggests that there is a potential third watercourse located in the centre of the site to the west of Hilltop Farm. The potential watercourse runs from NGR SK 388 642 in a northerly direction, passing through a culvert under the old Ashover Light Railway embankment before finally disappearing into a culvert at NGR SK 388 645.

The report talks of a site walkover undertaken by Provectus on the 23rd October 2015 and describes the section of the watercourse to the south of the Ashover Light Railway track.

It does not mention the length of the water course to the north of the Ashover Light Railway track to the point where it enters cistern and culvert at NGR SK 388 645. This cistern and culvert have become obscured by brambles in the last few years and are not readily visible. There has been no attempt to clear the undergrowth to examine the culvert. We, therefore, conclude that despite being asked to investigate this watercourse and culvert, they have not done so.

There has still been no attempt to properly examine the outflow of Watercourse 2 at the south of the site. Surely in the last two years there has been plenty of opportunity to overcome the ‘Health and Safety’ issues that prevented a proper assessment on the initial site visit.

Consequently the FRA cannot be considered adequate on the basis of these omissions.

Interestingly on page 4 of the FRA , in section 2.2 The Proposed Scheme it states:

Access to the site is currently via two T- junctions east of the site from the “Incomol building” located next to the A61 at S45 9AG. The southern part of the T-junction will be reconfigured and upgraded to a bellmouth junction to allow for access and egress to and from the site.

Firstly, there is no mention of how this will be affected by the new roundabout currently being completed by the developers of the Biwater site.

Secondly, we understand that there have been no discussions between the applicant and the owners of the Incomol site about using it for access to the Hilltop site and that such permission is unlikely to be granted.


It has now been almost two years since Provectus Remediation Ltd first submitted their application to Derbyshire County Council.

In that time 

  • the application has had to be withdrawn and resubmitted due to a failure to meet legal requirements
  • the Planning Authority has twice had to request further information under Regulation 22 of the Town And Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011
  • there have been 4 rounds of public consultation.

Yet still, the application has many inadequacies and leaves questions unanswered.

Provectus Remediation Ltd have had long enough get things right and it is now time to move directly to the determination of this matter.

After nearly 5 years of waiting, since exploratory drilling was carried out, the local communities now expect the proposals to be put to the Planning Committee so that our councillors can make their decision and end this uncertainty for residents and businesses in the Clay Cross area.

New Application Update

Site Notices have now been put up on telegraph poles around the proposed site and letters sent to residents living nearest to the site boundary giving details of the consultation period.

The notices state that representations should be submitted by 4 March 2016.

However, we understand that all objections submitted to the original application will be carried forward to this new application.

We have now had a good read through all the many documents in the new application and have found no really significant changes. Fortunately Provectus have highlighted all the amendments in red, as they were requested to do, which made the task easier.

Apart from clarification of some anomalies in the previous documents the only real change is the relocation of the site offices to the rear of Hilltop Farm rather than in the Incomol buildings.

Bearing this in mind, there is probably no need for everyone to resubmit objections. However, if you have new concerns or wish to emphasise that your previous objections still stand, you can submit your comments in the same way as before. Also, if you always meant to send in an objection but didn’t get around to it you now have another opportunity.

Click here to see the instructions for submitting objections. (Remember to use the new application code: CM4/1215/125)

We anticipate that the DCC Planning Department will want to process this as quickly as possible. So, unless there are any major problems, the application is likely to be put to the April or possibly May Planning Committee Meeting for a decision.

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

January Update

We have certainly been giving the Planning Authority plenty of work. So far there have been over 200 objections sent in by local residents opposed to the scheme.

Although the published deadline for sending in objections was 12 December 2014, the planning website says ‘The County Council will take into account all representations which are received up until three days before the proposal is considered for decision.So, if you had meant to send in an objection but just didn’t get around to it, there is still time.

Hilltop Action Group Committee has also been busy sending in objections – 12 so far.  We have still got a few more to complete and send in.

The ones submitted so far are (over 60 pages in total):

  1. Validity of Noise Assessment Report
  2. Accuracy of Mineral Application Form
  3. Communities Affected by the Hilltop Scheme
  4. Noise
  5. Geological & Hydrogeological Issues
  6. Inconsistent & Missing Drawings
  7. Water Attenuation Lagoons & Water Discharge
  8. Public Rights of Way
  9. Air Quality
  10. Health Impact
  11. Transport Assessment
  12. Ecology

The full text of these can be found from the menu on the left.

At the moment we have no idea when the Planning Committee meeting, which will make the decision on the application, will be. Scheduled dates for the next few Planning Committee meetings are: 9 February , 9 March , 20 April , 11 May , 8 June, 13 July, 10 August and 7 September. We will probably only get about five days notice.

More Objections Submitted

We have submitted four more objection documents to the planning authority today.

  • Geological and Hydrogeological issues
  • Inconsistent and missing drawings
  • Water Attenuation Lagoons and Water Discharge
  • Public Rights of Way

The full text of these objections can be found under Hilltop Action Group Objections in the menu on the left.

We hope to get more sent in before the official deadline for submissions on Friday 12 December 2014.

Have you sent in your objection yet?

Don’t forget, the more personal objections that are sent in, the better our chances of getting this scheme stopped.

For advice on writing your objection and how to send it in click on WRITING YOUR OBJECTION in the menu on the left.


A group of sterling volunteers is visiting every house within 1km of the Hilltop Site to collect signatures on a petition to be sent to the planning department.

The Derbyshire Times

There was another article in The Derbyshire Times this week in which Natascha Engel MP expresses her opposition to the plans and gives her support to the campaign to get it stopped.

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


We have just submitted our fourth objection.

The noise from a fleet of heavy plant working twelve hours a day within 50m of some houses and always within 500m of a residential property will be intrusive and definitely unwanted.

  • The Hilltop Action Group objection covers the following topics:
  • Interpretation of National Planning Policy Framework Guidance
  • Choice and suitability of Noise Sensitive Properties
  • Relevance of planning decisions offered as precedents
  • Northern haul road at entrance to processing area
  • Effect of noise on neighbouring communities
  • Effect of weather on noise propagation

This planning application by Provectus Remediation Ltd clearly breaches the guidelines as the anticipated noise levels are environmentally unacceptable. Furthermore, no national, local or community benefits have been demonstrated which would clearly outweigh the likely impacts.

On the grounds of unacceptable noise levels alone this application does not justify the grant of planning permission.

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

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

Analysis of application documents reveals errors

Careful scrutiny of the documents submitted by Provectus Remediation Ltd has revealed many errors and inconsistencies.

The Minerals Application Form, which is supposed to give an overview of the application, has obviously not been checked very thoroughly by the applicant.

Taken at face value, it implies that they intend to dig a hole zero metres deep to extract nothing! This will be done with a fleet of heavy plant which will not need refuelling during the three and a half years of operations!

This last point is the most worrying. They state that they will not be bringing any hazardous materials onto the site and will not be taking any measures to prevent the spillage or seepage of fuel oils during delivery, storage and handling on site.

The form is supposed to be a stand alone summary document but instead of extracting relevant details they merely direct the reader to the documents. This leaves the reader having to wade through hundreds of pages to find the necessary information, defeating the purpose of the form to give an accurate overview of the application.

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