Final Hilltop Update

The following documents are the recent communication (and we trust the last) with Provectus Remediation Ltd and Mr Bryn Hopkinson.

Although they have not explicitly admitted defeat or stated that they will not be taking any further action to pursue their plans to extract the coal by opencast mining from the Hilltop site, we think it is safe to assume that we will not be seeing or hearing any more from Provectus Remediation Ltd or Mr Hopkinson.

We won

The campaign is over

There wil be no opencast mining

Email to Provectus Remediation Ltd & Mr Bryn Hopkinson on 28 June 2018

Dear Sir,

It has now been over six years that the residents of Old Tupton, Holmgate, Clay Cross and New Tupton have lived under the cloud of your proposals to opencast mine for coal.

The local Parish Councils, the District Council and the County Council have all been strongly opposed to the scheme, with particular concerns about its potential negative affects on the Clay Cross Regeneration plans.

Barely a day goes by without one or more local residents asking me whether there have been any developments in the hope that you are no longer pursuing the matter and we can all, at last, put this behind us and get on with our lives.

It has now been over 3 months since HM Planning Inspectorate gave their decision to refuse planning permission and more than a month since you lost your High Court action to recover your planning fees. Furthermore, the time limit for challenging HM Planning Inspectorate’s decision in the High Court has long since expired.

Right from the start of this process it has been evident that it was not going to be successful. There was absolutely no local support for the scheme and a rather dubious demand for the relatively paltry amount of coal you hoped to extract.

Things have changed in the last six years and not in your favour. Recent action by the government (particularly the SoS announcement reversing the Highthorn decision) means that it is almost certain that any future application to opencast mine for coal in the UK will be turned down. 

I, therefore, request that you now issue a statement detailing your intentions for the Hiiltop Project. 

Hopefully, this will state that you have now abandoned the scheme and will not be pursuing any further legal or planning actions – all of which come at considerable cost to taxpayers. 

The residents of NE Derbyshire would like and deserve to be able to finally move on with their lives without this threat hanging over them.

John Gregory

For Hilltop Action Group

Response from Mr Hopkinson

FROM : Bryn Hopkinson

TO: John Gregory 

DATE: 5th July 2018.

Re Hilltop Scheme.

I would respond to your email of 28th June.

The residents of Old Tupton, Holmgate, Clay Cross and New Tupton have always faced uncertainty as to the possible extraction, by some means, of the remaining mineral deposits in their vicinity.

As at July 2018 nothing has changed. The mineral deposits remain and whatever Provectus may or may not ultimately seek to do in relation to coal on the Hilltop site, uncertainty will persist.

The only way in which uncertainty could be mitigated (at least as far as the Hilltop coal is concerned) would be for the surface mining project to go ahead. Make no mistake about this, if that had happened in timely fashion following the original application the Hilltop site would by now have been returned to agricultural use and the restoration and environmental enhancement process well advanced. The likelihood of built development or other form of mineral extraction on the site would have materially diminished and the status quo entirely restored.

One wonders whether the efforts of HAG in objecting to the temporary Hilltop scheme may have been better directed towards other local development projects which will have permanent impacts on local residents. For example, the waste co-incinerator plant on Bridge Street, Clay Cross and the extension of the Biwater development northwards along the east side of the A61 towards Old Tupton.

Did you actually consider with sufficient rigour  the longer term ramifications of your campaign against the Hilltop scheme on behalf of  ALL of the local residents of whom you speak and now purport to represent? Is it possible that HAG’s cause may have been hijacked by others with different and less altruistic agendas?

If it is right, as you suggest, that recent Government action means that it is now ‘ almost certain’ that future applications for surface mining consent will be turned down then this can only be because the Government intends to throw its full weight behind the fracking initiative. It has to be one or the other if security of energy supply at reasonable cost is to be achieved for UK consumers.

For the reasons set out above we are simply not in a postion to provide you with the comfort you require. As far as the Hilltop site is concerned, decisions as to planning applications going forward  rest with the various  parties who actually own the land in question.

Bryn Hopkinson.

Commentary on Mr Hopkinsons response

  1. The Note was sent from Bryn Hopkinson’s personal gmail account. There has been no formal response from Provectus Remediation Ltd and their Hilltop website has not been updated since they posted a statement in April.
  2. Prior to Provectus Remediation Ltd announcing their plans to opencast mine at Hilltop, the existence of coal on the site had never crossed most local residents minds. It was the Provectus newsletter and public meetings in the spring of 2012 that created the fear and uncertainty.
  3. The only way the uncertainty could be mitigated was for the plans to be rejected, the coal to stay in the ground and the environment and local residents spared the harm extraction of the coal would have caused.
  4. As the outcome of Hilltop Action Group’s campaign was the rejection of the scheme by HM Planning Inspectorate it seems that their efforts were perfectly targeted.It seems strange that Mr Hopkinson considers it would have been a good idea for local residents to object to the Biwater scheme, when, as director of Cavendish Estates (London) Ltd he was responsible for drawing up and getting the original plans passed. Although, having extracted and sold the coal from the site and then selling the resultant hole to bury the old Clay Cross spoil heap, the copmpany went into administration leaving the job unfinished and setting the regeneration back years.
  5. Hilltop Action Group has had the support of and spoken for a wide cross-section of the local communities throughout the last 6 years. The campaign against the opencast mining scheme supported and was suppoerted by Parish, District and County Councillors and both past and present MPs. As for being hijacked, despite national groups showing interest in our campaign, they were kept at arms-length and the protest was very much local in nature.
  6. The overturning of the Highthorn (Druridge Bay) decision by the Secretary of State certainly indicates that this, or any other, opencast coal mining scheme in the future will not get through the planning system. Mr Hopkinson’s assertion that the Government intends to throw its full weight behind the fracking initiative is somewhat presumptive. The National Infrastructre Commission report this week makes the case for boosting investment in renewables and putting the brakes on new nuclear facilities, but there is no mention of fracking.
  7. It would be too much to hope that Provectus Remediation Ltd and Mr Hopkinson would issue a statement addmitting defeat. However his last sentance “As far as the Hilltop site is concerned, decisions as to planning applications going forward rest with the various parties who actually own the land in question.’ makes it quite clear that they have no further interest in the site.As for any future planning application for the Hilltop site – the Local Plan is now nearing adoption and most of the site is designated as an ‘Inter-settlement gap’ so any development is unlikely to be granted planning permission. But we must remain vigilant.




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